Last year the U.S. Justice Department, after an 11-month investigation found the Seattle Police Department had engaged in “a pattern or practice of excessive force that violates the Constitution and federal law.”
The probe found that problems ran deep and for a very long time at Seattle PD and included, “Inadequate systems of supervision and oversight (that) permitted systemic use of force violations to persist at the Seattle Police Department,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
“The problems within SPD have been present for many years and will take time to fix,” he added.
Now a similar probe into the Los Angeles Police Department comes “Amid intense public scrutiny of the department’s jails and allegations of abuse and other misconduct by custody deputies. A blue-ribbon commission recently concluded that sheriff’s managers fostered a culture in which deputies were permitted to beat and humiliate inmates, cover up misconduct and form aggressive deputy cliques,” according to a new report by the Los Angeles Times.
The paper reported that internal department memos obtained by The Times show that top sheriff’s officials raised alarms about deputies meting out “jailhouse justice” against inmates and supervisors conducting shoddy use-of-force investigations. Sheriff Lee Baca recently agreed to sweeping reforms aimed at reducing the violence.
And amidst all this sheriff’s office investigators are looking into the exchange of photos of “bloodied faces.”
An L.A. police sergeant allegedly sent a photo of the bloodied face of an L.A. County Jail visitor after receiving a similar image of the face of the man’s brother from an anti-gang deputy.
“After a violent confrontation with a teenage suspect, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy took a photo of the man’s bloodied face and texted it to Sgt. Eric Gonzalez, a friend who worked at Men’s Central Jail.
A few hours later, Gonzalez responded by sending his own photo of a battered suspect: a jail visitor who had been kicked, punched and pepper-sprayed by deputies,” said the Times report.
The man in Gonzalez’s photo had two black eyes, one swollen shut, and blood streaming down his face.
“Looks like we did a better job,” Gonzalez wrote his colleague. “Where’s my beer big homie.”
“Hahaha,” the deputy responded, according to a text message exchange reviewed by The Times in a report that can be found here
According to Wikipedia, “Widespread police brutality exists in many countries, even those that prosecute it. It is one of several forms of police misconduct, which include: false arrest; intimidation; racial profiling; political repression; surveillance abuse; sexual abuse; and police corruption.”
In 1991, Los Angeles police officers administered a brutal beating to African American Rodney King as he lay on the ground.
The police officers involved were acquitted and those acquittals are widely believed to be the major reason for the Los Angeles riots of 1992 which caused 53 deaths, almost 2,400 injuries, more than 7,000 fires, damage to 3,100 businesses, and nearly $1 billion in financial losses.
After facing federal trial, the officers received 32 months prison sentence. The case was widely seen as a key factor in the then-reform of the Los Angeles police department.
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