On Tuesday, December 6th, the City of San Jose, California agreed to pay Dawit Alemayehu $525,000 in settlement for permanent brain damage he suffered at the hands of San Jose police officer Jorge Garibay. Alemayehu was 26 in 2013 when he was arrested on suspicion of public drunkenness. Following a miscommuncation between Alemayehu and another officer about removing his belt while handcuffed, Garibay knocked Alemayehu face down to the concrete ground with a leg sweep.
Excessive Force: News and Publications
On December 5th, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services published its report, The State of Policing in the United States, Volume 1, at a White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs briefing in Massachusetts.
"One of the recommendations of the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing was the delivery of an annual report on the state of American policing, which would provide an updated overview of events and changes in policies and practices, as well as their impact on police officers and the public. This inaugural report reviews law enforcement activities and developments from January 2015 to March 2016 and offers research and other resources for more in-depth analysis. Divided into three sections, the first part identifies the many ways in which the field was tested, including topics such as excessive use of force. The second section discusses community policing approaches and other strategies that police used to engage their communities and enhance public safety. The third section examines the impact of events and policies on law enforcement officers and their work."
On November 4th, 2016, a federal jury awarded $3 million to the family of Jason Moore, who died at 31 in 2011 after being Tased four times by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer while naked and unarmed.
The jurors found that former Ferguson Officer Brian Kaminski used excessive force on Moore, as well as failing to properly monitor, discipline and supervise his fellow officers. During his encounter with Moore, Kaminski fired his Taser four times, three of which after Moore had already fallen to the ground and without providing time for him to respond to Kaminski's commands.
On October 14, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer approved a settlement in the amount of $1 million for Teresa Sheehan, who in 2008 was pepper-sprayed and repeatedly shot in her San Francisco apartment after police responded to a report that she had threatened a social worker with a knife.
On Friday, October 7th, a federal jury awarded over $1.6 million to two cousins, Miguel Conreras and Miguel Vazquez, who were beaten by batons and stomped on by Long Beach, California police officers in November 2010.
On Wednesday, October 12th 2016, the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services released a new report detailing "numerous indicators of implicit and institutionalized bias against minority groups" among other issues pertaining to the conduct of the San Francisco Police Department. The review, which is not a court-enforceable agreement, was requested by the Mayor and a former SFPD Chief and makes 272 recommendations.
According to the Director's introduction to the report, the Department of Justice found "concerning deficiencies in every operational area assessed: use of force; bias; community policing practices; accountability measures; and recruitment, hiring, and promotion practices. We also found serious deficiencies concerning the San Francisco Police Department’s (SFPD) data systems regarding the ability to collect, maintain, and analyze data."
In October 2012, the Salem, Oregon police department responded to a welfare check call for Chase Hammer, 27, who was reported to be suicidal and armed. When police encountered Hammer, he was approaching his home, holding a revolver upside-down and by the butt. The officers did not give Hammer any time to comply with their commands, and within moments of giving them, an officer shot and killed him.
In August 2016, the city of Arvin, California agreed to settle for $187,000 in a case brought by a woman who was beaten by a police officer during a 2013 traffic stop for a broken tail light. Because the plaintiff did not in fact have a broken tail light, she refused to sign the officer's ticket and asked for a supervisor. The defendant officer ultimately grabbed her by the neck and slammed her against the hood of his car, causing back injuries.
In July 2016, the city of Eugene, Oregon agreed to pay $115,000 in a pre-litigation settlement to Arik Bumpas, who was assaulted by a city police officer at the Lane County Jail. The officer in question, John Sharlow, was already found guilty of misdemeanor assault and official misconduct in connection with the 2014 incident, which was filmed by a surveillance camera in the jail.
The United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division issues its August 10, 2016 report on the Baltimore Police Department's "pattern or practice of conduct that violates the United States Constitution and laws and conduct that raises serious concerns." The report condemns the BPD's unconstitutional stops, searches, arrests, its regular use of unreasonable force and overly aggressive tactics, and its pattern of racial, ablist, and gendered discrimination, among other areas in which the BPD fails to serve its community.