A 46-page report on unjustified police violence in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was just released by the Department of Justice at a highly anticipated press conferencein the wake of the execution of James Boyd, a mentally ill man, by APD last month and the release of a graphic video. A few key points:
- Officers too often use deadly force...
- Officers use tasers on people who are non-threatening or unable to comply...
- Officers use too much force on people who are mentally ill too often.
From the report:
We reviewed all fatal shootings by officers between 2009 and 2012 and found that officers were not justified under federal law in using deadly force in the majority of those incidents.
9:16 AM PT: What APD needs to improve upon:
— OpAlbuquerque (@OpAlbuquerque) April 10, 2014
Wow. Just wow.
We have reasonable cause to believe that officers of the Albuquerque Police Department engage in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including unreasonable deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and Section 14141. A significant amount of the force we reviewed was used against persons with mental illness and in crisis. APD’s policies, training, and supervision are insufficient to ensure that officers encountering people with mental illness or in distress do so in a manner that is safe and respects their rights. The use of excessive force by APD officers is not isolated or sporadic. The pattern or practice of excessive force stems from systemic deficiencies in oversight, training, and policy. Chief among these deficiencies is the department’s failure to implement an objective and rigorous internal accountability system. Force incidents are not properly investigated, documented, or addressed with corrective measures. Other deficiencies relate to the department’s inadequate tactical deployments and incoherent implementation of community policing principles.http://www.justice.gov/...
We find that the Albuquerque Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of unreasonable use of deadly force in officers’ use of firearms. We reviewed all fatal shootings by officers between 2009 and 201221 and found that officers were not justified under federal law in using deadly force in the majority of those incidents. This level of unjustified, deadly force by the police poses unacceptable risks to the Albuquerque community
9:38 AM PT: More from the report:
- Albuquerque police officers used deadly force on individuals in crisis who posed no threat to anyone but themselves.
- Albuquerque police officers’ own recklessness sometimes led to their use of deadly
- APD Engages in a Pattern or Practice of Unconstitutional Use of Less Lethal Force.
- Albuquerque police officers used excessive force against individuals with mental illness, against individuals with impaired faculties, and against individuals who require medical treatment.
9:41 AM PT: DoJ saying in not quite so many words Chief needs to be fired.
The contributing factors we discuss below evidence a breakdown in leadership that is responsible for ensuring that the agency functions in accordance with its mission and core values.9:52 AM PT:
We found numerous instances where improper force was used, but the problems were neither identified nor addressed by the chain of command. In nearly all of the incidents that we found problematic, we did not observe any findings by any supervisor—from the sergeant, who is a patrol officer’s immediate supervisor, up through the entire chain of command—that the officer’s use of force required corrective action.
10:09 AM PT: Let's fire the SWAT team leader too.
In our review of the Department’s SWAT, we found deficiencies in the leadership of this specialized unit. At the time of our review, the SWAT commander had not received adequate training and appeared to lack the experience to direct a disciplined and effective SWAT unit.
10:39 AM PT: This should be interesting...
11:09 AM PT: And here we go.
1:38 PM PT: New York Times report
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Police officers here too often used deadly force against people who posed no significant threat to them, including those who were mentally or emotionally unstable, unnecessarily escalating confrontations that frequently ended in shots fired and lives lost, according to the findings of an investigation by the Justice Department that was released on Thursday.http://www.nytimes.com/...
Citing “inadequate oversight, inadequate investigation of incidents of force, inadequate training of officers to ensure they understand what is permissible or not, inadequate training,” Jocelyn Samuels, acting assistant attorney general for the department’s civil rights division, said, “What we found was a pattern or practice of systemic deficiencies that have pervaded the Albuquerque Police Department for many years.”
As a result, Ms. Samuels said, the police department has engaged “in a pattern or practice of violating residents’ Fourth Amendment rights” and of using deadly force “in an unconstitutional manner.”
1:52 PM PT: Thinkprogress.
In addition to using deadly force when not warranted, officers also used less lethal weapons such as Tasers inappropriately in more than 200 instances “against people who were passively resisting and non-threatening or who were unable to comply with orders due to their mental state,” the DOJ found. The report also found that officers frequently employed a “higher level of force than necessary” during encounters with mentally ill individuals in crisis.
In one non-deadly incident that generated public outrage, officers kicked a suspect in the head more than 12 times and beat him with a baton while one officer held the man down on the ground. When the incident was over, video footage shows the officers giving each other a celebratory “belly bump...”
2:04 PM PT: Statement by Albuquerque Police Officers Association.
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) The following is a statement from the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association.
We have a great department with great officers who have worked hard to protect and serve the citizens of Albuquerque and will continue to do so on a daily basis.
The Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association is prepared to Work with our community in incorporating the recommendations by the DOJ. We appreciate the changes that the DOJ has recommended and recognize that change is hard for everyone. It takes time to heal the pain in the Communities’ hearts and minds.
Our department looks forward to learning and advancing from the DOJ’s guidance and additional training to make us a better department in the future. We are glad to see that federal funding will be used to assist our lack of services for the mentally ill in this city. We will benefit from any additional training. We look forward to working with the city and community in making this a great city to live in once again and restoring the communities’ faith back in our department.
We as an association are committed to assisting all of our officers’ in this dept. in addressing issues of concern that have been raised and helping them move forward in a positive fashion that is fair to all.