Two police officers in Hallandale Beach, Florida, are under investigation after a video showed them tasing and beating a man during an arrest for stealing a cellphone Wednesday afternoon. (Image source: Twitter video screenshot)
The video depicts officers Jaime Cerna and Richard Allen arresting Daniel Dunkelberger, who was accused of stealing a cellphone from someone’s car.
“Of course the video is of concern,” Hallandale Beach City Manager Roger Carlton told WFOR. “There are processes that have to unfold here, one of which is an internal affairs investigation which has already begun. Both officers are on administrative leave.”
Dunkelberger, 27, reportedly stole a cellphone from a vehicle Wednesday afternoon, and according to the police report, he became combative when officers tried to apprehend him.
The phone belonged to Nicholas Garcia, who called the police and also witnessed the events leading up to the video in question.
“He’s trying to run away,” Garcia told WFOR. “He kept telling the officers, ‘No I’m not going to sit down or put my hands behind my back,’ and he pushed the older officer and that’s when the other officer tackled him and tried to put him under arrest and put his arms behind his back”
The footage picks up with Dunkelberger up against the police car, and Cerna and Allen standing in front of him, hitting him with their batons and ordering him to get on the ground.
Dunkelberger is not complying, so one of the officers appears to hit him with the taser and take him to the ground. Once he’s down and no longer resisting, one of the officers hits him one more time on the leg with the baton and steps on him before the other officer handcuffs him.
The person recording the video screams several times for the officers to stop hitting him. The officers respond, defending their actions.
Dunkelberger was charged with burglary and resisting arrest.
Adds pressure as he is embroiled in controversy over bullying claims and allegations
He said he would “continue to speak out firmly” for the interests of the Commons and publicly disagree with the government’s management of business, which is led by Ms Leadsom.
Mr Duddridge said: “We cannot let the current situation of intimidation and bullying from such a senior figure whom we should look to set an example and act as arbitrator. The perpetrator cannot be allowed to have so much power over the House, its members and staff who work in the Commons.
“It is essential that the Speaker steps aside from chairing and participating on all matters related to bullying.”
The incident came as an inquiry into allegations Mr Bercow bullied two former private secretaries, Angus Sinclair and Kate Emms, was blocked by MPs.
The Commons Standards Committee voted three-two against allowing Parliament’s watchdog to investigate the allegations, which he has consistently denied.
The Speaker told MPs he had been unhappy about a “badly handled” transport statement that had reduced time for other business in the house, including a Grenfell Tower debate.
He said: “It was in that context and that context alone that having expressed my displeasure about the matter quite forcefully from the chair I used the word ‘stupid’ in a muttered aside. That adjective simply summed up how I felt about the way that day’s business had been conducted.
“Anyone who knows (Ms Leadsom) at all well will have not the slightest doubt about her political ability and her personal character.”
“Since 2015, the City of Milwaukee has spent more than $22 million on settlements with litigants accusing police of misconduct.”
— Bob Donovan on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018 in a news release
By Tom Kertscheron Thursday, May 24th, 2018 at 12:25 p.m.
By the evening of May 23, 2018, a newly released video — showing the arrest and tasing of NBA basketball player Sterling Brown by Milwaukee police — was going viral.
The incident occurred Jan. 26, 2018, when Brown drew police attention by parking across two handicapped spaces outside a Walgreens about 2 a.m.
The police bodycam footage showed officers had been confrontational from the start of their interaction with the Milwaukee Bucks rookie, who was thrown to the pavement and tased.
As the video was being released, the Milwaukee police chief apologized to Brown, a 23-year-old African-American, and said officers had been disciplined.
Brown has hired a prominent Wisconsin lawyer to bring a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee. That raises the possibility of taxpayers having to pay for the police actions and made us wonder about an alderman’s statement made in connection with the incident:
Has the City of Milwaukee paid, since 2015, more than $22 million to settle police misconduct lawsuits?
Statement by an alderman
The incident with Brown never sat well with Milwaukee Ald. Bob Donovan, who represents the south side neighborhood where it occurred — but not necessarily because of how Brown was treated.
Days after the incident, Donovan accused Mayor Tom Barrett, a frequent political rival, of having “ordered” that Brown not be charged with a crime — allegations Barrett strongly denied.
(Brown had been arrested on a tentative misdemeanor charge of resisting or obstructing an officer. But ultimately police decided not to request criminal charges be filed.)
Now back to the release of the videotape.
It had been reported two days before the release of the video when it would be released. Several hours before the release, Donovan issued a news release that didn’t mention Brown, but seemed to allude to him. The release carried this headline: “Has policing in urban America become an undoable job?”
Donovan, who is known as strongly pro-police, lamented a lack of respect for officers, saying: “And there’s another thing that I just don’t get: Why someone would refuse to obey a lawful order given by a police officer.”
Just before using the Taser, which emits an electrical shock, on Brown, officers had told him to remove his hands from his pockets. Brown, who had taken his hands in and out of his pockets several times before that, replied: “Hold on. I’ve got stuff in my hands.”
The Donovan statement from the news release that we want to check is this:
“Since 2015, the City of Milwaukee has spent more than $22 million on settlements with litigants accusing police of misconduct.”
In October 2017, seven months before Donovan made his claim, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:
Police misconduct has cost Milwaukee taxpayers at least $17.5 million in legal settlements since 2015, forcing the city to borrow money to make the payouts amid an ever-tightening budget.
That amount jumps to at least $21.4 million when interest paid on the borrowing and fees paid to outside attorneys are factored in, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analysis found.
At the time, the city was considering whether to close six fire stations, leading Ald. Bob Bauman to say: “Just have the police stop violating civil rights, and we’d have plenty of money for fire houses.”
So, the $21.4 million is close to Donovan’s claim of more than $22 million.
Official tally: $20.2 million
When we asked Donovan the source for his statement, he provided us a May 3, 2018, memo from the city’s nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau.
The memo says that since 2015, the city has paid $20.2 million to settle police misconduct lawsuits or claims against the city, including four that exceeded $2 million:
Chaunte Ott, wrongfully convicted of 1995 homicide
Two Mississippi officers were swiftly given the boot after being accused of brutally beating up a black man last week for avoiding a police checkpoint.
According to ABC News, 36-year-old James Barnett was chased by officers after he reached a vehicle checkpoint and turned around. After a short chase, Barnett was pulled over, and the officers ran up to his vehicle with their guns already drawn.
The officers from the Laurel, Miss., Police Department ordered Barnett to the ground, which he readily complied with, but that’s when they began kicking him in the head and face with steel-toe shoes, Barnett said.
“I wouldn’t wish this on NOBODY!! One even had the nerve to ask me how did those steel toes feel boy, trying to get a rise out of me, but I just laid there and prayed!!” Barnett wrote in a Facebook post showing his injuries. “I’ve never been so afraid in my life, 6 white cops surrounded my bed taunting me as if the assault wasnt enough!! I will not let this go, I dont this to happen to anyone else. There is no justice in what they did to me!! But I will get JUSTICE!!”
The photos show one side of his face swollen and red with scratches and bruises all over.
Not only that—Barnett claimed that after police took him to South Central Regional Medical Center, he was beaten up more. To add insult to injury, officers charged him with five misdemeanors, including resisting arrest and driving on a suspended license.
However, according to the Laurel Police Department, a supervisor on duty saw that there was a problem with the arrest and handed the case over to the department’s internal-affairs team, who launched an investigation mere hours after the incident occurred. By the next day, the officers, who remain unidentified, were fired.
The Police Department also noted that it has been communicating with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation about possibly pressing additional charges against the officers.
“The Officers and Administration of LPD take these types of allegations very seriously,” the LPD said in a statement to ABC News. “It should be noted that the [internal affairs invesigation] was initiated only hours after the incident occurred before any media attention, social media posts or even a formal complaint from the individual involved.”
LOS ANGELES — John Weber was rummaging through old boxes the other day, looking for memories, when he found a bunch of old baseball and flag football trophies. He has kept other things, too, like a neatly pressed R.O.T.C. uniform, a reminder that he once hoped to steer his son, Anthony, to the Army and away from the streets.
“It’s all I’ve got left,” he said.
On Super Bowl Sunday, after rooting for the Patriots against the Eagles, Anthony Weber left a friend’s apartment to go for dinner with his girlfriend at The Kickin’ Crab, her favorite restaurant.
Around the same time, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 call. A black man with a gun was threatening a motorist.
Soon, Anthony — a mixed race 16-year-old, was dead in a darkened courtyard of a run-down apartment complex, with no gun anywhere around.
Nearly two months later, with questions still unanswered, the spot is a makeshift memorial of candles, balloons, flowers, photographs, and placards from rallies. “Jail killer cops!” reads one. “No gun = no alibi = murder,” reads another.
Long before police shootings and protests in Ferguson, Mo., or Sacramento focused America’s attention on how the police treat black men, Los Angeles was a byword for police brutality and racism. Years of effort after the 1991 beating of Rodney King, the riots that followed and, later, the Rampart police corruption scandal, have succeeded in changing the culture of policing in the city to a great extent. There is less overt racism, many people in Los Angeles say, and police forces have been reshaped to better reflect the city’s diversity.
Yet to Anthony Weber’s family, to the Black Lives Matter activists drawn to the case, and to many residents of South Los Angeles, an area still rife with crime and poverty, his death and its aftermath are signs of how much more needs to change on their streets, and how the police can be too quick to use deadly force against black men.
“We are light-years from where we were, and light-years from where we need to be,” said Connie Rice, a civil rights lawyer who began suing the Los Angeles Police Department in the 1990s, and lately has worked with the department on new approaches to policing.
Even so, gangs are still ubiquitous, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has said that Anthony was involved with them, an allegation that has outraged activists.
“First they kill our bodies, then they kill our characters,” said Melina Abdullah, a professor at California State University, Los Angeles, and a Black Lives Matter organizer.
Anthony’s father said, “In South Central, everyone is associated with gangs — it’s just a part of being able to walk to school.” He said Anthony “associated” with neighborhood gang members but was “not a criminal gang member.”
By Mr. Weber’s own account, Anthony struggled. But his past, Mr. Weber said, was irrelevant to his killing.
Anthony’s mother, Demetra Johnson, said that her son “smoked and had a baby at 16,” but she maintained that “he was not a thug or killer, like they are trying to portray.”
She said she had always counseled her son, whom everyone called A.J., that on the streets, he would be regarded with suspicion by the police, especially if he was hanging out with a group of friends.
The sheriff’s department said that the deputies involved in the case believed Anthony had a gun, and that he had refused to obey an order to halt and had run away. When the deputies chased him, according to the department’s statement, Anthony “turned toward the deputies, and that was when a deputy-involved shooting occurred.”
No gun was found at the scene. The department said it must have been lost in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, possibly taken by a bystander.
“As you can imagine, until you are at one of these scenes, you don’t have an appreciation for just how chaotic they get, how dangerous potentially,” Sheriff Jim McDonnell told KPCC, a public radio station, about the deputies’ failure to find a gun. “You don’t know which additional threats are in the environment, either,” the sheriff said.
But witnesses and the family’s lawyer, Gregory A. Yates, say the deputies secured the scene immediately, and that no one else had any chance to get close and grab a dropped gun.
Activists and members of Anthony Weber’s family say they have no doubt where things will end up: exoneration for the deputies, the details fading from public memory, and eventually, perhaps after years, a quiet payout to the family from the county.
In Los Angeles, law enforcement officers are rarely held criminally accountable for shootings. The last time a police officer in the city faced criminal charges for a shooting while on duty was in 2000; the shooting was not fatal and the officer pleaded no contest.
The 2014 shooting of Ezell Ford, an unarmed black man, by the Los Angeles Police Department, galvanized the local chapter of Black Lives Matter, but the officers were not charged. Mr. Ford’s family sued the city and received a $1.5 million settlement last year.
An officer involved in another controversial police shooting was cleared this month. The district attorney’s office declined to bring charges against the officer for killing an unarmed homeless man in the Venice neighborhood, even though the police department’s own investigation determined that the shooting was not justified and recommended criminal charges. The city reached a $4 million settlement with the victim’s family. Both the officer and victim were black.
The Venice case is emblematic of the broader frustrations of the Black Lives Matter movement over a lack of progress, despite national attention to the problem. “We’re absolutely frustrated,” Ms. Abdullah said. “I’m in a state of rage.”
Fatal shootings by police officers in the United States have held steady at roughly 1,000 a year over the last three years, according to a tally kept by The Washington Post. But there is no standardized federal database to track police shootings, despite repeated calls after the shooting in Ferguson to create such a system.
The latest incident to stir racial tensions and protests happened in Sacramento, where police officers shot and killed a young black man in his backyard who they thought was waving a gun. It turned out to be a cellphone.
Activists in Los Angeles say police shootings are still distressingly numerous. Last year, officers were involved in 78 shootings in Los Angeles County, down slightly from previous years, according to the Los Angeles district attorney. In New York, by comparison, there were 23 police shootings last year, the lowest total on record.
According to an investigation by KPCC, the public radio station, which pieced together data from a variety of sources, the number of shootings by law enforcement officers in Los Angeles County has remained roughly stable for the last 18 years. In the period from 2010 to 2014, the station found, 24 percent of the fatalities in those shootings were black, though black residents make up just 8 percent of the population.
Changes in police policy have built up “just enough fabric of trust to weather the shooting of a resident without a riot,” Ms. Rice said.
Anthony Weber’s death may not fit neatly into the familiar narrative of racially tinged police violence — of a white cop shooting a black man — but his case does fit the narrative of modern Los Angeles. Areas like South Los Angeles that were once predominantly African-American — and were the epicenter of uprisings against police abuses in 1965 and 1992 — have become increasingly Latino, and increasingly diverse. Anthony had a white father, a black mother and a Latino girlfriend.
Law enforcement in Los Angeles has also become more diverse: White males are now in the minority in both the police and the sheriff’s department, and Latino and black officers are represented on the force in proportions roughly mirroring the population at large.
But greater diversity has not ended longstanding police biases against black men, according to the shooting data as well as the perceptions of activists. “They shot him because he’s black!” was chanted by protesters at the first rally after Anthony Weber was killed.
“The last cop who put a boot in Rodney King’s face was black,” said Steven A. Lerman, a lawyer who represented Mr. King. “It doesn’t seem to be white versus black, but blue versus take-your-pick.”
The sheriff’s department has not disclosed the race or identity of the deputy who shot Anthony.
Sitting in the Weber family’s living room on a recent afternoon, surrounded by photographs of Anthony, were four generations of women. Mattie Johnson, Anthony’s grandmother, moved to Los Angeles in 1964 — a year before the Watts riots — hoping to escape the cruelties of segregation and racism in Birmingham, Ala. She recalled Ku Klux Klan marches and a church bombing there that killed four young black girls.
The women all considered Anthony’s death to be of a piece with the long arc of America’s history of racism.
If things had been different, Anthony Weber might have been the one behind the pulpit at the funeral the other day in South Los Angeles. He loved the music of the church, and he sure loved the spotlight.
“He was just a natural charmer,” said his mother, Demetra. “He wanted attention. Which could make him difficult, too. Trust me, I gave him attention. But he always wanted more.”
At his funeral, a former teacher called him her “wonder boy,” who worked hard to reach age 16. His sister spoke about the unfairness that “he never got the chance to be a man.”
Mixed with the grief and the music of R. Kelly and the O’Jays at the service, there were hints of anger, too.
“We’re having trouble finding out what happened to him,” his father said. “They’re not being transparent.”
Rodney Hilson, speaking from long experience as a pastor in South Los Angeles, said simply, “I’m tired of this.”
News Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Community members call for action against the Asheville Police Department regarding the incident where a Police Officer Chris Hickman beat Johnnie Jermaine Rush for suspected jaywalking on Aug. 24.
A petition on change.org for police accountability circulated throughout the area and obtained over 500 signatures.
“Folks are very upset in the community, both black and white, about the footage that was leaked,” said Dwight Mullen, UNC Asheville professor of political science. “It wasn’t even released, it was leaked which is the only reason we found out about it and that is just really, really upsetting that it had to be leaked to be found out that APD has done this.”
The footage shows former APD officer Hickman punching and choking Rush, who was suspected of jaywalking. The body cam video showed Rush tased by a stun gun and taking multiple punches to the head from Hickman’s point-of-view.
“For the African-American community, this was not news — what it was, was filmed,” Mullen said.
According to documents released by the Buncombe County District Attorney, Hickman is charged with assault by strangulation, assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats for the incident.
A statement released by the Asheville City Council stated, “Like you, we are angry. We are angry that a black man walking home from a long day at work was stopped for jaywalking — something most of us do regularly without consequence. We are angry that Johnnie Rush was attacked, beaten, choked and tased by a white police officer in violation of city policy and common decency. And we are furious that no one thought that we — Asheville’s elected leaders — needed to know about this incident.”
City Manager Gary Jackson was dismissed by the City Council after 13 years due to the allegations in a unanimous decision last Tuesday, however his connection to the incident was not made public.
“I appreciate this action by city council to hold staff accountable for this systemic breakdown, but our focus needs to be on policy reform to increase the accountability and transparency of our police department,” said Patrick Conant, UNCA alumnus and member of Code for Asheville.
Code for Asheville, a volunteer civic technology organization, uses technology and data knowledge to address community problems and advocate for data transparency with local governments, according to their website. The group is responsible for creating the petition.
“The ‘Petition for Police Accountability Through Data Transparency’ is a community effort, led by Code for Asheville, which provides a formal request for Asheville City Council to increase the transparency and accountability of the Asheville Police Department,” Conant said. “We are requesting data sets related to public safety, which provide critical information to the public and empower citizens to analyze trends in public safety on a variety of topics.”
The petition stands with more than half of their goal of 1,000 signatures. On the petition website, contributors can write their reasons for signing and why they feel the community needs to take action. Jesse Michel, a contributor to the petition, felt this was an important step to fight against the racial injustices.
“This requires a comprehensive understanding of the causes and effects of racial bias in law enforcement, because they are so deeply entrenched. This petition also calls for low or no cost changes that will improve transparency and accountability of the police department that can be acted upon today. These are common sense solutions that the Asheville community needs,” Michel said.
APD released its 2017 Professional Standards annual report Feb. 27, amid the investigation. The report stated a 61 percent decrease in the department’s overall use of force in 2017
“We believe that the implementation of our de-escalation policies and training have played a major role in the reduction of use-of-force incidents. This was not a one-time training, we will continue to train and practice officers in this area, in order to better serve our community, with the goal of decreasing use-of-force incidents,” said Christina Hallingse, Asheville Police Department public information officer.
While APD made efforts toward decreasing the overall use of force, including fully deploying body cameras and an increased emphasis on de-escalation, some community members feel a 61 decrease is not the complete solution needed.
“It can also be looked at as, 61 percent decrease from what level? So you were already at unacceptable levels, so telling me you’re only doing half as bad is not really good news,” Mullen said. “For the African-American community, particularly the community living in public housing, I doubt they have felt 61 percent decrease in police overuse of force.”
Conant said he felt the decrease in overall use of force is overshadowed by the leaked footage of Rush being beaten and the fact that the community and City Council were completely unaware of the incident for months.
“It doesn’t matter how few use of force incidents we have if our system lacks transparency and fails to protect citizens from police brutality,” Conant said.
Conant urges community members to stay involved, and with continuous involvement changes can be made through Asheville City Council.
“Show up to city council and committee meetings, read local coverage of important issues and learn everything you can about the way our city and county governments work. Asheville is a growing city, but we’re still small enough that it’s possible for anyone to make difference if they know how to approach the system,” he said.
A Washington state teen has been awarded $500,000 in federal court, after being shocked with a stun gun by an off-duty police officer working security. The case stems from an incident that occurred four years ago when the young woman was pulled off her bicycle and tased.
As theAssociated Pressreports, Monique Tillman sued Officer Jared Williams and the city of Tacoma over the violent attack, which happened in May 2014. The ordeal was captured on surveillance video. Tillman, who was 15 at the time, and her then 16-year-old brother, Eric Branch, were riding their bikes through a mall parking lot when Williams pulled Tillman over. When the teen asked why she had been stopped, Williams told her she had caused a disturbance. He said was going to issue her a warning for trespassing, which meant she would be arrested if she ever returned to the mall. Tillman then reiterated her question again, and when she attempted to ride away, Williams pushed her to the ground and tased her.
Maria Lee, A spokeswoman for the city, said in a statement that the verdict was disappointing. Is it though? Getting tased for riding your bike hardly seems like a justifiable use of force. The spokeswoman says that Tacoma’s attorneys may pursue an appeal after they review the case. Meanwhile, Williams still has his job with the department, which, personally, seems like a liability. Anyway, Tillman’s brother was also awarded $50,000 in the case.
Have you ever driven past a police car and had that nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach, even though you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong? For some, that feeling is quite familiar — but not because of an irrational tendency to worry.
Police brutality and the use of excessive force by police officers have been present in the United States, and other countries, for many years and has sadly resulted in tension and mistrust between citizens and police officers. Although there have been several recent events which might have tested one’s trust in police officers, we need them to keep us safe, so action must be taken on both sides to restore a mutual trust.
On Feb. 24, an incident at Loyola caused students to question the actions taken by Campus Safety officers who were conducting a search of two men not affiliated with Loyola who were accused of scalping tickets outside Gentile Arena. When a few students noticed officers patting down the men in Damen Student Center, a student approached the officers to question what was going on and was eventually arrested by Campus Safety for interfering in the officer’s investigation, according to a statement released by the university.
However, a video posted online by a spectator showed Campus Safety officers using excessive force when arresting the student, which resulted in outrage from the student community.
Talk of racial profiling and police force spread on social media and among students. A statement released by the university assured students this incident wasn’t race related; however, the video footage confirmed the use of force by the officers. Students even took action, trying to hold Campus Safety accountable for this incident by creating and circulating a petition to hold Campus Safety accountable, as well as holding a walkout and town hall meeting.
Unfortunately, these incidents aren’t uncommon. The use of excessive force by police officers has been an issue for many years and not just in the United States. Incidents like these can make people feel unsafe, even when next to those whose jobs are to “serve and protect” the public.
On Feb. 16, a police officer from Oakland, California wanted to visit a local coffee shop to meet the staff and have a cup of coffee. However, once he arrived, he was refused service. An employee told him the shop had a policy of asking police to leave for the emotional and physical safety of its customers and staff.
People shouldn’t be fearful of police officers because they’re the ones who are supposed to keep people safe and give the public some peace of mind. Because of events like the one that occurred on our own campus, people, such as employees of the Oakland coffee shop, are claiming they don’t feel safe around those who are meant to protect them and, as a result, are severing any sort of relationship with them, even commercial. And although the use of excessive force has caused this fear, trust needs to be restored so police officers can do the job they’re meant to: Keep people safe.
In order for this trust to be restored, a change needs to be made. Police officers need to reevaluate the ways in which they take action in situations, whether that be systematic retraining or taking other steps in reducing the need to resort to using excessive force. Of course, excessive force should never be used and holding police officers accountable when they have wrongly done so is important, and this has been reflected in Loyola students’ reaction. Once a conversation can be opened between a community and its police officers, a change can be made and trust restored.
The police in Sacramento, searching for someone reported to have been breaking windows, fatally shot a young black man in his backyard over the weekend after he walked toward them carrying what they believed was a gun.
When they examined his body, however, the only object they found was a cellphone.
That was the account that the Sacramento Police Department offered on Tuesday in an update to their investigation into the shooting by officers of the unarmed man, 22-year-old Stephon Clark, on Sunday.
Mr. Clark’s relatives, whom he lived with in the South Sacramento neighborhood, could not immediately be reached on Wednesday. But one of them told The Sacramento Bee that family members often entered the home through the garage, after knocking on the back window because the doorbell was broken.
“The only thing that I heard was pow, pow, pow, pow, and I got to the ground,” said Sequita Thompson, Mr. Clark’s grandmother, adding, “I opened that curtain and he was dead.”
Mr. Clark’s brother, Stevante, told The Bee that Mr. Clark, who has two children, ages 1 and 3, had been living at the house for about a month, after being released from county jail.
“They’re asking, ‘Where’s Daddy, where’s Daddy?’” said Salena Manni, the mother of Mr. Clark’s children, according to the newspaper. “He was a part of our family. He was our rock.”
The police said that footage from the law enforcement officers’ body cameras and video from a sheriff’s helicopter would be released to the public within 30 days.
On Sunday, at 9:18 p.m., officers from the Sacramento Police Department arrived at a house on 29th Street, investigating reports that someone was breaking the windows of vehicles, a separate, earlier police statement said on Monday. The person who called the police said the suspect was wearing a black hoodie and dark pants and was “hiding in a backyard.”
Officers in a Sheriff’s Department helicopter overhead informed the police that they saw someone matching that description and helped to direct the police to him, saying he had just “picked up a toolbar and broke a window to a residence.” He was then seen running to the front of a house, the statement said.
When officers arrived at the house, they say, the man ran toward the back and they pursued. Then, “the suspect turned and advanced towards the officers while holding an object which was extended in front of him,” the police statement said. “The officers believed the suspect was pointing a firearm at them.”
“Fearing for their safety, the officers fired their duty weapons striking the suspect multiple times,” the statement said. Two officers fired 10 rounds each, the police told reporters, according to a report by KCRA.
It did not say whether they had previously been disciplined.
Mr. Clark, who the local news media said had two children, was pronounced dead at the scene, the police said. Investigators found a cellphone near his body but no firearms, they said.
The officers who fired their weapons have been with the department for two and four years and also had several years of experience in other departments. They were placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated by district and city attorneys and the Office of Public Safety Accountability, the police said.
Andrew Ford, March 20, 2018 | Updated 3:27 p.m. ET March 23, 2018
Miguel Feliz was kicked by Jersey City police officers after Feliz’s car was hit by a suspect police had been chasing, according to Feliz’s attorney. Andrew Ford
Following an Asbury Park Press investigation into police brutality that exposed the lack of oversight of rogue cops, the state attorney general Tuesday issued sweeping new guidelines to weed out drug-abusing cops and those who flout the law.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued two directives for every police department in the state. The first directive orders mandatory, random drug testing in every department and the second directive sets up an “early warning” system to identify bad cops before they injure or kill residents. Both are posted at the bottom of this story.
Also, Grewal said his office is examining additional improvements to New Jersey’s system for police accountability, including a review of how departments conduct internal affairs investigations and state licensing of police officers. New Jersey is just one of six states that has no way to bar a rogue cop from law enforcement short of a criminal conviction.
“I think these two directives are directly aimed at identifying problematic behavior in law enforcement officers before that behavior escalates to the point where there might be potential litigation, where an officer engages in some sort of problematic behavior with a civilian,” Grewal said, referring to the orders he issued Tuesday.
In an exclusive interview with the Asbury Park Press, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal explained how he addressed incidents that led to $42 million in taxpayer funds being spent to settle allegations of police abuse. Andrew Ford
“So, I think we have to remember, we have 30-plus thousand officers in the state, nearly 9 million people, clearly there are bad interactions and there are bad actors,” Grewal added. “But they’re few and far between. But we’re committed to identifying them and making sure that their behavior doesn’t escalate to the point where it leads to that next piece of litigation, that next, you know, sort of tragic consequence that you’ve identified in some of your reporting.”
Lawmakers contacted Tuesday said they supported Grewal’s mandates.
“These individuals are trusted with our public safety and have a large responsibility in the communities and towns and jurisdictions where they work, so a drug testing policy is proper. That’s number one,” said Deputy Assembly Speaker Gordon M. Johnson, D-Bergen, a former law enforcement officer.
Johnson also spoke highly of the early warning system.
After the Asbury Park Press reported on lacking oversight of police officers outside departments, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal implemented early warning systems for officers statewide. Andrew Ford
“That can only put us in the right direction when it comes to accountability for police behavior in the streets, and that will then allow the public to feel that they do have a resource, a place to go if they feel that they’ve been mistreated by a police officer, in an interaction with a police officer,” Johnson said.
Longtime Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Morris, noted the challenges of the profession and the importance of oversight.
“It’s stressful and significantly important to the primary reason governments are put together to begin with and that’s public safety,” McKeon said. “And to be certain that officers who are so stressed are in the best position to serve the public, it just makes sense.”
Officer licensing considered
New Jersey has no process for revoking the license of a police officer found unfit to serve, similar to the way a doctor or lawyer can be banned from their professions.
“Right now, we’re considering many options that we believe can make the system stronger,” Grewal said. “A licensing system that other states employ is something that we’re looking at. But you should know that we’re committed to making the system stronger, to building trust. And we’re looking at all means to do that.”
The new statewide random drug testing policy requires that at least 10 percent of a department’s police officers are tested each time. All New Jersey police departments will be required to randomly test officers at least once in 2018, then twice annually each following year.
The early warning system establishes a minimum of 14 potential issues with police officer performance that departments will track. If these issues with an officer are spotted three times in a year, a supervisor will develop remedial measures for the officer. The department will also notify the county prosecutor’s office of the officer’s name, the nature of the issues and the plan to fix those issues.
A chief can choose to track more police performance issues, but at a minimum, departments will look for:
Internal affairs complaints against an officer
Civil actions filed against an officer
Criminal investigations or criminal complaints against an officer
Excessive or unreasonable use of force
Domestic violence investigations in which an officer is a subject
The arrest of an officer including driving under the influence
Sexual harassment claims against the officer
Car crashes in which the officer was at fault
A positive drug test
Arrests by an officer that are rejected or dismissed by a court
Cases in which evidence obtained by an officer is suppressed by a court
Neglect of duty
Atlantic City Police Chief Henry White explains how their ‘early warning system’ helps to identify problems with their police officers so situations can be addressed before they become a major issue. STAFF VIDEO BY THOMAS P. COSTELLO
If an officer is subject to the early warning system review, their department is required to tell that to future employers if the officer seeks work with another agency.
“I’m a firm believer that law enforcement works best when there’s trust and collaboration between law enforcement and the communities we serve,” Grewal said, noting that trust is primarily established through “transparency and accountability.”
Asked about making available to the public the sustained findings of an internal affairs investigation, Grewal described the broad scope of his office’s efforts.
“…These first three directives are part of an ongoing review process and we are in the process of reviewing our AG’s IA (internal affairs) guidelines,” Grewal said. “And so we’re looking at all options there as well to make the system more transparent and accountable.”
Grewal’s first directive after taking office this year – still pending review by the state supreme court’s ethics committee – would make public video recordings depicting police use of deadly force.
“These directives are by no means the end of the process for us,” Grewal said. “We’re engaged in looking at other areas in which we can improve trust, improve transparency and improve accountability.”