Petition Launched to Pressure D.A. to Prosecute Police Shootings

September 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The families of Los Angeles residents fatally shot by law enforcement officers joined Black Lives Matter organizers Monday outside the downtown Hall of Justice to demand that District Attorney Jackie Lacey prosecute some of those officers.

Black Lives Matter organizers have posted a petition at www.bity.ly/BLMLA and on the group’s Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites and said they hope to garner 10,000 signatures in the next 30 days.

“Jackie Lacey has not filed charges against a single police officer,” said BLMLA spokeswoman Melina Abdullah, explaining that the group turned out Monday to “convince her to do her job.”

More than 200 deaths have occurred at the hands of law enforcement since Lacey took office in 2012, according to BLMLA, with one organizer putting the number at 268.

Some officers were judged to have acted “out of policy” by their departments and were subject to administration action. In other cases — like the fatal shootings of James Joseph Byrd and Norma Guzman in unrelated incidents in 2015 — the police commission found that officers violated rules about deadly force, though Beck and union officials disagreed.

And shortly after the fatal shooting of 29-year-old Brendon Glenn in Venice in 2015, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said he hadn’t seen circumstances to justify the use of deadly force.

No criminal charges have been filed in any of those cases.

Lacey’s Justice System Integrity Division filed a formal report finding that the officers who shot Guzman acted in lawful self-defense and defense of others. No reports have yet been published on Byrd or Glenn.

BLM organizers say they have a clear-cut case of criminal misconduct in the shootings of Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin. The five officers involved are no longer with the force, though when the Inglewood Police Department made that announcement in May, it declined to say whether they had resigned or been fired.

Either way, family members see it as evidence of guilt and want the district attorney to prosecute the men.

“We are demanding that District Attorney Jackie Lacey bring charges against police when they kill our people, beginning with the filing of charges against former Inglewood police officers Michael Jaen, Richard Parcella, Jason Cantrell, Sean Reidy and Andrew Cohen who killed Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin while sleeping in their car in February 2016, leaving seven children without their parents,” the petition reads.

“We are demanding that in each (police shooting) case, the District Attorney vigorously pursue charges against murderous and abusive officers rather than deferring to police units rife with scandal and corruption to hold themselves accountable.”

The Inglewood Police Department said that Michael and Sandlin appeared to be unconscious in a car at Manchester Boulevard and Inglewood Avenue when officers approached and that Michael had a gun in her lap. Both had a blood- alcohol content in excess of the legal limit for driving, according to police.

Officers fired into the car, but the department has not released the details of its investigation and exactly what led to the use of deadly force.

BLMLA advocate Justin Marks said it was time for the IPD to pay for body cameras for its officers

“The Inglewood Police Department is in serious need of some accountability,” Marks said, adding that a city where a $2.6 billion stadium is being built can afford the expense.

“Inglewood does not have a budget crisis, it has a priority crisis,” Marks said.

Abdullah said the group was seeking justice for those “who are not ,wealthy, who are not white.”

The small crowd outside the Hall of Justice was made up of black, white and Latino faces, including the father of Jesse Romero Jr., a 14-year-old boy shot in Boyle Heights last year.

Romero Sr. stood before a microphone and told reporters, “I want justice for my son,” before he was overcome by grief and had to walk away, sobbing.

An organizer with neighborhood organization Centro CSO took his place, offering a “thank you to Black Lives Matter for standing in solidarity with the Latino families in Boyle Heights.”

A series of family members wearing buttons or carrying photos of their loved ones shared their stories and as the media packed up their cameras and notepads, took handfuls of flyers urging residents to sign the petition.

Public pressure on officials by BLMLA, White People for Black Lives, faith leaders and residents was what led to the dismissal of the Inglewood officers, Abdullah said.

“We recognize that the system that we live with is flawed,” she added. Her goal is “push it as far as we possibly can to get some semblance of justice.”

A response from Lacey’s office was not immediately available, but she has said in the past that she would not bow to public or media pressure and has followed the evidence and the law in each of the police shootings she has reviewed.

LAPD Panel Orders Review of Public Disclosure in Police Shootings

October 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The city Police Commission Tuesday unanimously approved changes to the way the Los Angeles Police Department handles police shootings, including increasing de-escalation training for officers and releasing more information about shootings sooner.

While some other police departments already offer real-life simulation training for officers on a regular basis, the LAPD is in the early stages of offering training that includes “reality-based” drills, according to an Inspector General report presented to the commission Tuesday.

LAPD began rolling out the reality-based training in 2015, with all officers expected to take it by 2017, according to the report. There are no plans yet to offer the training on a regular basis.

The Office of the Inspector General’s report compared the LAPD’s “use-of-force” policies to those of departments in Las Vegas, Dallas, San Diego and Washington, D.C.

According to the report, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department requires patrol officers to undergo four-hour drill-based training two times a year that includes a de-escalation scenario. Dallas Police Department patrol officers must take part in daylong reality-based training annually. And every two years, all officers with the Washington, D.C. police department are required to take a 40-hour training session that uses a “tactical village” scenario drill.

The panel unanimously backed Commission President Matt Johnson and Commissioner Sandra Figueroa-Villa’s recommendations that the department increase and offer reality-based training on a regular basis.

Johnson said he wants to do more training that “takes officers out of the classrooms, away from the computer” and puts them into “real-life interactive scenarios.”

The drills would allow officers to practice reacting to “potentially volatile situations in a controlled environment,” he said.

The OIG also looked into other departments’ practices for releasing details and video footage of police shootings, and found that the Las Vegas department had the most liberal policies.

Las Vegas police officials put out video statements on YouTube a few hours after shootings, according to the OIG report.

Within about three days of a shooting, Las Vegas department officials provide detailed summaries, including the names and tenure of the officers involved, the shooting victim or suspect’s identity and other details, video and 911 recordings, crime scene photographs and information about the evidence that was recovered, according to the OIG report.

The commission Tuesday also approved Johnson and Figueroa-Villa’s recommendation that the department look at “what additional information regarding uses of force, including officer-involved shooting incidents can be released to the public in an expedited fashion and develop a protocol for ensuring the accuracy of the information released.”

Johnson said he believes “we have the obligation to provide the public as much accurate information as is responsible.”

The commission instructed department officials to report back on the recommendations within 90 days.

Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill expressed support for the recommendations, saying that “we have an obligation to review and reconsider if there are ways we can be better.”

Responding to the OIG report, Police Chief Charlie Beck said, “It’s important to look at the other agencies’ experiences so we can make this the best police department that it can possibly be.”

But he cautioned that “state laws are different, that union agreements are different, that demands on police officers vary from city to city, so not one size fits all, but all these things are worth considering.”

He added that he likes that Las Vegas gives out information on “the totality of the investigation” and that the department does a “presentation.”

“I like the fact (the presentation is) available to the public via video so everybody can watch it,” he said. “So I think those things are excellent. Now whether or not we would adhere to the same timeline that they do, their state laws are different… and in fact the volume of work that Las Vegas does is very different than ours too.”

The Las Vegas department serves a population of about 1.5 million people, compared to Los Angeles’ population of 4 million, according to the OIG report.

 

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