Human Rights: News and Publications
In April 2017, the California Department of Corrections agreed to stop an ongoing trial and provide $950,000 in settlement to an ex-prisoner who in 2012 was pepper sprayed during a cell extraction and then strapped naked to a gurney for 72 hours.
In March 2017, a San Diego federal court approved a settlement of $1 million for the family of a Tijuana teenager who died in federal custody at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in 2013 after being instructed by two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to drink liquid methamphetamine.
"The central purpose of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is to “give a remedy to parties deprived of constitutional rights, privileges and immunities by an Official’s abuse of his position.” Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167, 172 (1961). Petitioners’ proposed rule—that the reasonableness of Fourth Amendment seizures be evaluated without regard to any facts but those at the exact moment an officer applies force—flies in the face of this purpose, as well as the Court’s longstanding precedent. If adopted, this rule would prevent innocent parties injured or killed by police during a stop or arrest from presenting any evidence of the officers’ conduct leading up to the moment of violence, even if that earlier conduct was a violation of well-established constitutional law. This Court should reject the Petitioners’ reductionist, outcome-oriented approach, and affirm that Section 1983 Fourth Amendment claims are to be evaluated under the totality of the circumstances, using ordinary principles of proximate cause."
Before leaving office, President Barack Obama issued a record number of commutations and pardons, including granting the release of Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar López Rivera. Lopez Rivera, now 74, has spent more than half of his life incarcerated due to a "seditious conspiracy" conviction. US prosecutors accused the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional group, of which Rivera was a member, of carrying out 140 bombings on military bases and other government installations. López Rivera has always denied involvement in any fatal attacks.
"In July 2014, CCRB Board Chair Richard Emery, in the wake of the tragic death of Eric Garner and on behalf of his fellow Board members, asked the CCRB staff to undertake an objective, comprehensive assessment of chokehold complaints made to the CCRB. This study investigates chokehold complaints, primarily from January 2009 until June 2014, in order to report findings and make recommendations to the Police Commissioner and the public. After documenting and evaluating five and a half years of chokehold complaints, their patterns and the likely causes of their persistence, this report recommends ways in which the CCRB and the NYPD can collaborate to reduce chokehold incidents and eliminate future chokehold tragedies. This report is an agency report prepared by staff as directed by the Chair."
"...whether Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), provides a cause of action for Respondents' claim that the punitive and abusive mistreatment inflicted upon them while they were detained in a federal correctional facility was unconstitutional. The breadth of the Petitioners' position is startling. They claim that no Bivens remedy is available because this case involves high-level policy decisions and touches on issues of national security and immigration. That proposed rule would effectively immunize tens of thousands of federal officers, and large swaths of federal law enforcement activity, from damages, no matter how egregious the officers' conduct... This Court should reject that extreme position and affirm the critical importance of a Bivens remedy in deterring unconstitutional conduct and enforcing constitutional rights."
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."
On Tuesday, May 31 2016, a Cuyahoga County, Ohio jury returned a verdict in the amount of $22 million for Arnold Black, who in 2012 was severely beaten by detective Randy Hicks. Hicks had erroneously identified Black's truck as one he had been tipped off would contain a kilogram of cocaine, and when he realized his mistake, he began to punch Black in the face and head. Hicks' partner, patrol officer Jonathan O'Leary, held Black upright during the assault.
The Los Angeles City Council has agreed to pay more than $24 million to settle lawsuits from two men who alleged that dishonest investigative tactics by LAPD detectives led to their wrongful murder convictions and caused them to spend decades of their lives incarcerated.
Kash Delano Register, who won his freedom in 2013 after lawyers and students from Loyola Law School cast doubt on the testimony of a key prosecution witness, will receive $16.7 million — the largest settlement in an individual civil rights case in the city’s history.