Police Brutality

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  • More than 500 have been killed in 2016, as national outrage mounts with recent killings.
  • The new report on race and the Chicago Police Department issued last week by a City Hall-appointed task force is, by the standards of bureaucratic language, a full-throated scream. The authors have endorsed what they called the “widely held belief” that Chicago police “have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.” They rendered their conclusion in numbers: of the hundreds of people wounded or killed in police shootings in Chicago from 2008 to 2015, about three-quarters were black. Only eight per cent were white; Latinos made up fourteen per cent. When the task force studied traffic stops, the proportions were little better: police were almost twice as likely to stop black drivers as Hispanics or whites.
  • A police report indicates that an unarmed young father of two begged for his life before being shot dead by a police officer in Mesa, Arizona. His distraught widow is now fighting to ensure that the officer responsible ends up behind bars.
  • Maryland’s top court ruled that Officer William Porter, whose trial in Gray's death ended in a hung jury, must testify against five other defendants.
  • It's been 25 years since four white Los Angeles police officers brutally beat Rodney King, an unarmed black man, as it was caught on video, sparking local riots and putting a spotlight on longstanding feelings of distrust toward law enforcement in minority communities. The video in particular has been credited with forcing cities to reconcile with — and sometimes reform — how they police minority neighborhoods.
  • Six Cleveland police officers were fired over their involvement in a November 2012 chase that led to the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man and woman, city officials said on Tuesday.
  • Chicago's top prosecutor on Thursday said she asked the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to help probe the fatal police shootings of two black residents over the weekend, as protesters renewed calls for the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The unusual step ramps up pressure on the Chicago Police Department, which is already the subject of a U.S. Department of Justice civil rights investigation over its use of deadly force, especially against minorities.
  • A Cleveland grand jury and Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty decided Monday not to indict police officers in the 2014 killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing with a toy gun in a park. Many feel the decision is a miscarriage of justice, and a symbol of how the criminal justice system gives entirely too much deference to cops who shoot people, especially people of color.
  • A white Chicago police officer charged with murder in the 2014 fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald pleaded not guilty Tuesday. Jason Van Dyke is "hanging in there" and wants to tell his side of what happened so he's not seen "as this cold-blooded killer," defense attorney Dan Herbert said after the court hearing. Herbert added that they haven't ruled out asking for a change of venue. The case is in Cook County Criminal Court in Chicago where demonstrators have staged marches protesting the shooting and how it's been handled.
  • A Cleveland grand jury and Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty decided Monday not to indict police officers in the 2014 killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing with a toy gun in a park. Many feel the decision is a miscarriage of justice, and a symbol of how the criminal justice system gives entirely too much deference to cops who shoot people, especially people of color. That might be true. But high-profile incidents where officers aren't indicted, like this case in Cleveland — or aren't convicted, like the Baltimore police officer whose trial in the death of Freddie Gray resulted in a hung jury earlier this month — might be obscuring a broader change in the system.
  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Monday he would cut his family vacation in Cuba short to address the fatal shooting of two more black residents by a city police department already under federal investigation over its use of deadly force. The decision comes after activists stepped up calls for Emanuel's resignation over his handling of policing in the nation's third-largest city. A protest is planned at City Hall on Thursday.
  • A grand jury has declined to indict two Cleveland police officers for their role in the shooting last year of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy who was holding a pellet gun. Tim McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, announced the decision on Monday, saying the two officers who were involved were reasonable in their belief that Rice had a weapon. He called it a “perfect storm of human error.”
  • A Maryland judge declared a mistrial on Wednesday in the trial of the first of six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, whose killing sparked riots and arson in the city in April. The jury had deliberated for 16 hours on whether the officer, William Porter, was guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Gray's death from injuries suffered while in police custody. After it reported it was unable to reach a verdict, Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams issued his ruling.
  • Last month, the attorney representing the Chicago police officer who shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald offered an explanation for his client's actions: "There is this 21-foot rule," the attorney, Dan Herbert, told CBS News. "It talks about how an individual is a significant threat to a police officer when they're in that 21-foot boundary." Chicago police officials said the black teen held a four-inch folding knife on the night of the shooting last October, and that he waved it aggressively at Jason Van Dyke and other officers, ignoring orders to drop the weapon. But the video, released in late November on court orders, showed McDonald was wielding a knife but was shot with 16 bullets as he was facing away from the officers and then fell to the ground.
  • Dec 12 2015
    Bad Cops, Good Cops
    In early November, 2014, Craig Futterman, a law professor at the University of Chicago, got a call from someone who worked in law enforcement in that city. The caller told Futterman about a squad-car dashboard-camera video from a few weeks earlier, which showed a police officer shooting to death a seventeen-year-old boy named Laquan McDonald. According to the source, the video was at striking odds with the version of the incident that the Chicago Police Department had presented. In that account, the officer, Jason Van Dyke, acted in self-defense: McDonald was out of control and menacing him with a knife, so he shot him once, in the chest. But the source, describing the video frame by frame, evoked what sounded to Futterman like “an execution.”
  • If you’ve paid any attention at all to the news during the past year, or simply are on social media, then chances are you’ve seen real life videos of white cops shooting and killing black males when the situation did not warrant it. The most recent video to have surfaced captured the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, for which he has been charged with first-degree murder. Earlier this year, a similar video was released of a white South Carolina cop shooting a 50-year-old unarmed black man in the back as he was running away.
  • Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired the city's police superintendent Tuesday, a week after the release of a dash-cam video that showed a white Chicago officer fatally shooting a black teenager 16 times. Emanuel called a news conference to announce the dismissal of Garry McCarthy, who only days ago insisted to reporters that the mayor had his "back." The mayor praised McCarthy's leadership of the force but called it an "undeniable fact" that the public's trust in the police had eroded.
  • The morning sun had just reached West Baltimore when William Tyler stepped out of his rowhouse into a neighborhood that, nearly seven months after the riots’ fires had been extinguished, was still smoldering. He stood for a moment in the long shadow of the battered public housing project across the street, where Freddie Gray spent much of his time before suffering a severe spinal injury while in police custody on April 12 and dying a week later. Tyler, 44, knows many outside this world hoped that the charges filed against the six officers involved in Gray’s arrest would bring a measure of peace and optimism to a place chronically devoid of both.
  • Marchers took to the streets of Chicago Tuesday night, protesting the death of Laquan McDonald. McDonald, a 17-year-old black man, was shot by Officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014, but video of his death was only released Tuesday, the same day Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder. In general, the protests seem to have remained calm. Police said there were few scuffles and fewer arrests.
  • Chicago police shot black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014. Now, after months of requests from local reporters and activists, a Cook County judge has ordered the Chicago Police Department to release the dash cam footage of McDonald's last moments by Thursday, and the city is preparing itself for potential unrest.