The Justice Department has reached a settlement with the city of Cleveland over the conduct of its police officers, according to a Justice official, the latest case in which the Obama administration has investigated excessive use of force and the violation of constitutional rights by a local department.
The settlement, amid the growing national debate about American policing, is expected to be announced early this week, the official said. It comes just days after a judge acquitted a Cleveland police officer for his role in the fatal shooting of two unarmed people in a car in 2012 after officers thought the sound of the car backfiring was gunshots.
The Justice Department in December issued a scathing report that accused the Cleveland Police Department of illegally using deadly force against citizens. The Justice Department’s civil rights division found that the Cleveland police engaged in a “pattern or practice” of unnecessary force — including shooting residents, striking them in the head and spraying them with chemicals.
In one incident, an officer used a stun gun on “a suicidal, deaf man who committed no crime, posed minimal risk to officers and may not have understood officers’ commands.”
The police were also accused of repeatedly punching in the face a handcuffed 13-year-old boy who had been arrested for shoplifting.
The Cleveland report was released the month after a 12-year-old African American boy, Tamir Rice, was fatally shot by a white Cleveland police officer. Cleveland officers had responded to a 911 call that reported a person pointing a gun. It turned out to be a toy pistol.
A Justice Department spokeswoman would not comment on the settlement, which was first reported on the Web site of the New York Times.
When last year’s report about Cleveland was released, then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. traveled to the city to announce the findings and said the Justice Department and the city had agreed to establish an independent monitor who would oversee police reforms. The changes will include better training and better supervision of officers, Holder said.
There have been more than 20 investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in the past 5 years. The investigations have resulted in 15 agreements with law enforcement agencies, including New Orleans and Albuquerque. The Justice Department recently opened an investigation of the Baltimore police department.
Here is the consent decree that the Cleveland police department entered into with the government.
On a separate matter, I will be off and on today — probably offline more than on. Tomorrow, I might reblog some articles and unless something comes up that is really interesting, that might be the case for several days until I catch-up on some personal matters and begin feeling better.
Remember to keep the Golden Rule.