It seems like every day, Ferguson’s story of “good cop with clean record finds himself in bad situation” is dissolving more and more into “typical Ferguson pig murders unarmed black guy in street.” At this point, it’s a wonder that anybody’s left defending them at all, faced with wave after wave of damning information about both Darren Wilson and the Ferguson PD.
Then again, Ferguson PD has gotten used to defending itself — the 53-member force, after all, is currently undergoing six different lawsuits or investigations for police brutality and excessive force. And in at least four cases out of the six, it was white cop/black victim.
The Brown shooting obviously tops this list, but five other, lesser-known cases are also in the works. Of course, police lawyers and representatives fall back on “well, cops get accused of this stuff all the time.” But the DOJ seems to disagree — seems that in this particular case, questions must be asked.
Questions like “How is it that less than 0.5 percent of cops nationwide are currently under investigation for brutality, and the Ferguson PD is running more than 22 times that national average?”
(Interesting irony for you — those average figures on national police misconduct cases came from the Koch-funded Cato institute.)
Ferguson certainly isn’t alone in its brutality; as of right now, at least 34 other departments are under investigation by the DOJ for similar misdealings. However, former St. Louis mayor says the type and number of allegations against Ferguson PD are set it apart even from those:
“The cases themselves are fairly extraordinary — so is the volume. It’s prima facie evidence of discriminatory practices. I would be surprised if Justice didn’t make a recommendation that they be placed under scrutiny.”
But James O. Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police says not to jump to conclusions about “marauding officers.” He says that 90 percent of cases like this lead back to a systemic issue with management:
“To suggest that police officers are a marauding, white occupying army out there to deprive minorities of their civil rights is at variance with common sense. You can’t have rogue officers in a well-managed police department.”
Actually, we couldn’t agree more. The idea that there are a bunch of rogue officers out there brutalizing the population is ridiculous. Definition of “rogue“:
dangerous solitary animal: a vicious or uncontrolled animal that lives apart from the rest of its herd or group
So, yes, just as Mr. Pasco said: They aren’t rogues, by definition. Ferguson PD’s problems with violence, brutality and racial oppression, as he notes beforehand, are clearly systemic. Our kudos on the point, sir…unintentional as it may have been.
Summary of the Cases
As of right now, five officers (of the 53) and one former officer have faced five separate civil rights lawsuits relating to excessive force. One was quietly resolved with hush-money out of court, four are pending and one is on appeal. Two of the officers involved had histories of excessive force allegations at other police departments, and one of the officers has been accused of the same at least twice since joining the Ferguson PD.
Add all that up: Ferguson PD will hire you if you’re a violent (preferably racist) thug, and keep you on if you stay that way.
Define “systemic issues.”
1. First Case, the murder of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson.
2. September 2011: Police encountered a black man, 31-year-old Jason Moore walking around, looking dazed in a residential area. Moore has a mental disorder, and a heart condition. Officer Brian Kaminski ordered him to put his hands up, and immediately fired taser into him.
A second officer held Moore down while Kaminski continued to apply taser current. The constant current caused Moore’s heart to seize, killing him. They continued to taser him until they realized he was dead. The case was recently filed, and currently under investigation.
3. A 54-year-old black welder named Henry Davis is sitting in jail on a DUI, and asks officers for a mat to sleep on. Three officers proceed to beat him relentlessly. They say it was “because he became combative.” Knowing they were not being recorded the officers gave the man a concussion, and then slapped additional charges on him for “destruction of city property,” because his blood had gotten on their uniforms.
A judge threw the case out, saying Davis’ injuries were too minor to be considered “excessive force” — but his lawyer believes they will win the case on appeal to a higher court, since a concussion is hardly a “minor injury.”
4. Officer Eddie Boyd had already had five complaints of excessive force at the St. Louis police department when he transferred to Ferguson. Boyd, who is black, had in his tenure at St. Louis been under investigation for pistol-whipping children aged 10 to 12 years old on three separate occasions. He left St. Luois after doing it again — for a total of four — in order to avoid the “red tape” of another investigation.
Ferguson PD accepted him as a transfer, and St. Louis PD ended up offering Boyd’s last victim $35,000 out-of-court to just go away. Then, Boyd accrued another charge for assaulting a suspect while in Ferguson — that investigation is still pending. Boyd’s lawyer says (with a straight face): “I think it’s incorrect and misleading to say that he is a guy with a record when he denied that he acted improperly in all of these cases.”
5. June, 2010. Officer Justin Cosma (then working in Jefferson County) found a shirtless, 12-year-old boy (white) checking the family mailbox outside his home. The boy’s attorney Richard Lanzo says “They were talking to him and the next thing that happens is they are restraining him. Because he was shirtless, he was grabbed around the neck. He had choke marks. They tied his hands and feet behind his back, and hogtied him — all on his property, all while his mother was inside the house.
According to the boy’s account, he was choked, beaten and repeatedly slammed against the ground. The police say they were forced to take the boy down and hogtie him in front of his home because he was “resisting arrest/interfering with an arrest,” though they failed to specify what they were arresting him for.
The prosecuting attorney wisely decided to drop the charges against the boy, lest any inconvenient questions or witnesses come up in court. The boy’s family is currently suing the police department, and the officer is under investigation, but still working. In fact, he was on duty covering the protests in Ferguson after his fellow officer murdered Michael Brown in the street.
These cases and probably a few more…in a group of 53 people. One imagines that had these same allegations been levied against six men in any other group of 53 people, particularly non-Caucasian people, Bill O’Reilly would have already denounced them as “thugs with a cultural problem.”
Seems Eric Holder’s doing the same.
h/t: Washington Post