On July 21st, a police officer shot and killed an unarmed man in Anaheim, California. When people protested, police shot rubber bullets into the crowd and released canine units to attack them. This problem is far from isolated.
The DOJ reports police brutality has “mushroomed to unprecedented levels,” and 17 departments are now under investigation.
Certainly there are instances when law officers must use force to protect themselves or others. But this doesn’t explain why a handcuffed woman in RI was kicked in the head and another in FL was tasered onto the asphalt, leaving her in a coma. It’s no excuse for beating and kicking 15-year-old Chad Holley as he lay restrained on the ground or for brain-damaging violist Jordan Miles (pictured) because his soda bottle “looked like a gun."
Most inexcusable is that these crimes are rarely punished and these officers nearly never lose their jobs. Tell Congress to crack down on police brutality and prosecute it as a penalty-enhanced federal crime.
We, the undersigned, believe it’s time for Congress to admit that Justice Department investigations into police brutality are not effectively curtailing these crimes.
Excessive and dangerous force used by police officers against those who are at their mercy - those whom they are charged with protecting - should be classified as a special crime, one that carries a mandatory prison sentence. This should hold true especially in the case where an officer beats or otherwise attacks or tasers one who is already restrained and unable to block a punch or even break a fall.
Officers who attack a restrained detainee should also face immediate dismissal.
Never again should a citizen harmed in this way be left with only the option of filing a civil suit because our justice system treats police officers with far more leniency than it does the general public.
Instead of leniency, officers charged with the care and protection of restrained detainees should be held to the strictest standard of conduct and severely punished for brutality committed against these and other vulnerable citizens, who should always be seen and treated as innocent until proven guilty.
Though the DOJ announced last year it was conducting investigations into 17 police departments across the US, the most in our history, it is reported that these investigations will not result in any criminal prosecutions - only in reform measures.
However, despite the five-year court-approved monitoring period following a Justice Department probe of the Pittsburgh Police Department, Jordon Miles was severely beaten by three Pittsburgh cops who are now on trial for violation of his civil rights, and Miles suffers irreparable brain damage.
The details of his case, by a department supposedly reformed by DOJ intervention, bear repeating:
Jordan Miles was an 18-year-old violist at the city's performing arts high school when he was beaten and arrested walking to his grandmother's house in his crime-ridden neighborhood the night of Jan. 12, 2010. Officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak contend Miles was acting suspiciously and they thought a bulge in his coat pocket was a gun. They later said they found only a soda bottle.
Miles acknowledges running, struggling and kicking, but only because the officers didn't identify themselves as they rushed from an unmarked cruiser on a detail aimed at identifying suspects about to commit drug or weapons crimes. He was charged with resisting arrest, prowling and other crimes.
Another horrendous incident in PA that has just come to light with release of a State Trooper video is the Robert Leone case.
It is time for Congress to crack down on police brutality and do what it takes to put an end to this exceptionally egregious epidemic of unprosecuted crime.
Make police brutality a penalty-enhanced federal crime. No more suspended sentences - no more slaps on the hand. Enough!
Thank you for your consideration of this urgently serious issue.