Officers Are Unlikely to Be Disciplined — at Least Publicly.
By Zipporah Osei & Mollie Simon
It has been almost two months since a Los Angeles Police Department patrol car accelerated into Brooke Fortson during a protest over police violence. She still doesn’t know the name of the officer who hit her or whether that person is still policing the city’s streets. The officer did not stop after hitting Fortson and instead turned around, nearly hitting other demonstrators in the process, and sped off.
The LAPD almost surely knows who the officer is. The squad car’s number is clearly visible in one of the multiple videos that captured the incident. But the department hasn’t released any information: not the officer’s name, or whether that person has been disciplined. The police say the incident is still under investigation.
As hundreds of videos of police violence during protests have circulated, ProPublica wanted to see what happened to officers in the aftermath.
In New York City, where 10 of the videos we examined took place, the Civilian Complaint Review Board investigates allegations of excessive force against the police. The board investigated more than 3,000 allegations of misuse of force in 2018, but only 73 of them were substantiated.
We set out to see whether the incidents caught on camera were investigated, whether officers were named and what information we could get about any investigations or discipline. We found a widespread lack of transparency that made it difficult to find out even the most basic details about whether and what sort of investigations were taking place.
ProPublica looked through hundreds of viral videos and focused on those that most clearly show an officer using apparently disproportionate force. We ended up with 68 videos involving more than 40 law enforcement agencies across the country, in both large cities and small towns.
We asked each police department a few simple questions: Who were the officers in the video, were they under investigation and have they been disciplined?
The departments mostly declined to give any specific information.
We learned that officers from eight videos have been disciplined so far. Officers from eight others will not be disciplined. And for two videos, police departments still insist they’re unsure of whether the officers involved are their own.
While officers have the right to use force if their own or others’ lives are in danger, the widespread violence against protesters has been unwarranted, said Chris Burbank, the former chief of the Salt Lake City Police Department.
“When you have a peaceful protest, people sitting on the ground, does that justify the use of tear gas or pepper spray on them? It absolutely does not,” said Burbank, who is now the vice president of law enforcement strategy at the Center for Policing Equity. “I see that as a violation of policy, violation of state and city ordinance and as a violation of common decency and what is good about policing.”
The LAPD told us it has moved 10 unnamed officers to non-field duties while it investigates incidents related to the recent protests. The department declined to say whether the officer who struck Fortson is on that list. Fortson has filed a claim for damages with the city and has retained a lawyer instead of filing a complaint with the Police Department.
Here’s what we learned while looking into these videos …
‘Reign of terror’: A Summer Of Police Violence In Los Angeles
“It’s like there’s no end to it, it just keeps happening.”
By Sam Levin
The Guardian (9/6/20)
Los Angeles police officers have continued to kill civilians at alarming rates and under questionable circumstances in the last three months, despite a summer of unprecedented activism and growing political pressure from lawmakers.
Most recently, two deputies with the Los Angeles sheriff’s department (LASD) fatally shot a bicyclist, 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee, who was fleeing after officers tried to stop him for an alleged “vehicle code” violation. The killing on Monday of yet another Black man in South LA was one of more than 10 fatal police shootings in the LA region since the George Floyd protests erupted at the end of May.
“It’s a reign of terror. The sheriff’s department does whatever they want to do, and they know that no one will be held accountable.”
this, then it’s obvious that it’s their intent,” said Myesha Lopez, 35, whose father was killed by LASD in June. “I think the protests are only making them more agitated, more trigger-happy, more volatile, more unstable. I don’t believe these officers have the ability to reform themselves.”
Police leaders have put forward accounts of each killing that they say justify the use of force. But civil rights activists and victims’ families say the repeated bloodshed is a sign that police continue to escalate conflicts and resort to violence, even in the most routine of encounters – and that a more radical response is needed to prevent the next tragedy. …
He Exposed Police Corruption, Now Cops Won’t Leave Him Alone
The Real News (9/3/20)
The story of cop watcher Otto The Watchdog reveals how American law enforcement uses the criminal justice system to retaliate against critics and their families. But Otto is not alone, First Amendment activists, auditors and protesters all around the U.S. are feeling the blue backlash.