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Articles Tagged with police brutality

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Amadou_DialloAs we mark the 25th anniversary of the tragic death of Amadou Diallo, our hearts are once again with his family and all those who have been affected by similar injustices. Amadou, an unarmed 23-year-old immigrant from Guinea, was killed on February 4, 1999, by plainclothes officers of the New York City Police Department’s Street Crime Unit. The loss of Amadou under a hail of 41 bullets, based on a grievous misjudgment, is a moment that remains etched in the memory of our city and our nation.

Our firm had the solemn privilege of representing Amadou’s family in their quest for justice and accountability. Although no legal outcome could ever compensate for the loss of a loved one, the $3 million settlement reached with the City of New York in March 2004 was a recognition of the profound wrongness of the actions that led to Amadou’s death. It was one of the largest settlements of its kind under New York State’s “wrongful death law”, highlighting the gravity of the negligence, wrongful death, racial profiling, and violations of civil rights that occurred.

The acquittal of the officers involved did not deter us from our pursuit of justice, nor did it silence the voices demanding change. Instead, it galvanized a movement towards police reform and accountability that continues to this day. The disbandment of the Street Crime Unit in 2002 and the ongoing calls for transparency and fairness in policing are testaments to the enduring impact of Amadou’s story.

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Daniel Pollack and Jamie TesterToo often people shot or brutalized  by police are suffering mental issues or drug addiction and have trouble finding stable housing. In a recent article published in Policy & Practice, the flagship publication of the American Public Human Services Association, Daniel Pollack, a professor at Yeshiva University’s School of Social Work in New York City and Jamie Tester Morfoot, an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire’s Social Work Department describe how the city of Eau Claire in the Midwest created a Criminal Justice Collaborating Council (CJCC) that studied the life of a victim during the entire year previous to being shot by the police and as a result proposed changes in Eau Claire County services systems to prevent such shootings.

Responding police teams now have a mental health professional with them and may have access to information related to the personal mental health history of the person they are going after. The county jail also added mental health services. The County Treatment Courts has redefined its terms to be more accessible to drug dealers fighting addiction. Eau Claire also created a Free Mental Health Clinic that will be expanded and also studies options to expand affordable housing.

“By embracing the uncomfortable conversations around how service systems may have failed an individual, Eau Claire County has implemented changes resulting in improved outcomes for its citizens in need of additional supports. By reframing gaps in service as a community issue, instead of just individual government system issues, the human services provider leadership is striving to create better outcomes for all Eau Claire community members.”

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Pollack-and-TruhauWhen an accuser or or an accused  in a criminal investigation is a pre-teen or an adolescent, the unpreparedness of law agencies can lead to miscarriages of justice resulting in traumatic impacts.  In a recent article in the New York Law Journal, LISA H. THURAU, an executive director of Strategies for Youth and DANIEL POLLACK a professor at Yeshiva University’s School of Social Work  recommend that law enforcement agencies provide training and guidance on how to better handle cases with youths. Too often in criminal cases, law enforcement officers are not proprely trained to interact with children. This can result in traumatic experiences for the children and their loved ones. Additionally when families try to sue for abuse, the court’s decision is often biased in favor of the defendants.

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Police brutality is at the origin of the death of Freddie Gray and the 6 police officers involved in the arrest of the 25 year old black man and recklessly drove him unbuckled in a police wagon until he suffered a severe and critical neck injury will face criminal charges. ” The most serious charges were brought against Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., who was driving the van that carried Mr. Gray to a police station after his April 12 arrest. Along with involuntary manslaughter, Officer Goodson, 45, was charged with “second-degree depraved heart murder,” which means indifference to human life.” Read more in New York Times. This morning in a press conference, Baltimore State Attorney Marylin Mosby said that after her team investigated the death of Freedie Gray, they came to the conclusion that Freddie Gray’s death was a homicide and that they have probable cause to file criminal charges. See video below

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Cleveland%20Police.jpgA 12 year old boy who was killed by a Cleveland Police Officer is the last victim of a long history of police brutality in the city of Cleveland. A year and half ago the feds launched an investigation of the Cleveland Police Department after several high profile use of force incidents and numerous public demands for a federal investigation by civic leaders and local politicians. The Justice Department released their report Thursday afternoon. The report found that officers used on a regular basis unjustifiable force not only against criminals but also against innocent victims of crime. Among the allegations, the feds report that Cleveland officers in recent years punched a handcuffed 13 year old boy who was shoplifting. They also shot an unarmed kidnapping victim who was only wearing his underwear.

Read more in the Huffington Post.