‘Shooting police is not a civil rights tactic’: Activists condemn killing of officers – The Washington Post

As the nation awaited answers about the shooting that left three police officers dead, civil rights activists were quick to condemn the incident.

Source: ‘Shooting police is not a civil rights tactic’: Activists condemn killing of officers – The Washington Post

Latest on police-custody death: Rumors close suburban mall

Baltimore firefighters battle a three-alarm fire Monday, April 27, 2015, at a senior living facility under construction at Federal and Chester Streets in East Baltimore. It was unclear whether is was related to the ongoing riots but was one of several fires in the area. THE BALTIMORE SUN VIA AP JERRY JACKSON

Baltimore firefighters battle a three-alarm fire Monday, April 27, 2015, at a senior living facility under construction at Federal and Chester Streets in East Baltimore. It was unclear whether is was related to the ongoing riots but was one of several fires in the area. THE BALTIMORE SUN VIA AP JERRY JACKSON

Police say a mall in suburban Baltimore has closed after rumors spread on social media about plans for trouble there and at other locations.

County police spokesman Cpl. John Wachter says Security Square Mall decided to close Tuesday, but it was not at the direction of police. The mall is near the Social Security Administration’s headquarters and just a few miles west of the city.

The riots started Monday at a mall near downtown Baltimore, on the same day as Freddie Gray’s funeral. Gray died after suffering injuries while in police custody.

The Baltimore Orioles postponed a second straight game against the Chicago White Sox after a night of rioting near Camden Yards.

The team says it made the decision Tuesday after consulting with Major League Baseball, and state and local officials. A makeup date was not announced.

Public schools were shut down Tuesday, and Baltimore’s mayor imposed a 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew.

Monday’s game was postponed after riots that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died April 19 of spinal cord and other injuries sustained while in police custody.

11:15 a.m.

A woman who hit and pushed a boy to remove him from the riots in Baltimore is being hailed by the police commissioner and others online.

Video of the woman, presumably the boy’s mother, shows her smacking him on the head as other youths throw bricks, rocks and other objects at police near a mall Monday afternoon.

“I wish I had more parents that took charge of their kids out there,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said of the video.

The woman has not been identified.

Police asked parents in a series of tweets to get their children inside after groups of youths became violent.

The riots started hours after the funeral for Freddie Gray. He suffered a critical injury while in police custody.

Standing in front of a burned-out CVS pharmacy, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake deplored the violence of the night before.

“We worked so hard to get a company like CVS to invest in this neighborhood,” she said, describing the neighborhood as still recovering from the riots of the 1960’s. “This is the only place that so many people have to pick up their prescriptions.”

Rawlings-Blake said that the city had prepared for the possibility of disturbances after Freddie Gray’s funeral Monday, but had been overwhelmed. Questioned about whether she should have been in the neighborhood before Tuesday morning, she responded with frustration.

“You can’t see everything that I see. You don’t know all the different moving pieces,” she said.

Gray died after being injured while in police custody.

10:20 a.m.

A spokesman says Monday’s riot is the first time the Maryland National Guard has been called up for a civil disturbance in the state since 1968, when Baltimore erupted in violence after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Guard spokesman Lt. Charles Kohler says about 500 guardsmen are being deployed in Baltimore on Tuesday, and the force will build to about 2,000 though the day. He says that can build to 5,000, and officials also could call on Guard forces in neighboring states.

Continue reading »

Arresting officers provide statements in Freddie Gray death

Protests(CNN)Five of the six officers suspended with pay after their parts in arresting Freddie Gray have provided statements to investigators, the Baltimore Police Department said Wednesday.

The department will not release personnel records or photos because doing so would violate the law, the police said in a statement.

“They have completely cooperated with the investigation from Day 1,” Michael Davey, an attorney for the officers involved, told reporters.

He defended their interactions with Gray, and said that police did not need probable cause to arrest.

“There is a Supreme Court case that states that if you are in a high-crime area, and you flee from the police unprovoked, the police have the legal ability to pursue you, and that’s what they did,” he said. “In this type of an incident, you do not need probable cause to arrest. You just need a reasonable suspicion to make the stop.”

The department released the officers’ names earlier: Lt. Brian Rice, 41, who joined the department in 1997; Officer Caesar Goodson, 45, who joined in 1999; Sgt. Alicia White, 30, who joined in 2010; Officer William Porter, 25, who joined in 2012; Officer Garrett Miller, 26, who joined in 2012; and Officer Edward Nero, 29, who joined in 2012.

Of the six officers, three were on bikes and initially approached Gray, another made eye contact with Gray, another officer joined in the arrest after it was initiated and one drove the police van, Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said.

Another person, who was inside the prisoner transport van carrying Gray, is a witness in a criminal investigation, so his name won’t be released, police said.

“The investigation, as it stands, will be turned over to the State’s Attorney’s Office for review on May 1, 2015,” the statement said. “As with any criminal investigation, detectives will continue to pursue the evidence wherever it leads, for as long as it takes.”

Protests continue
The emotions are raw and protests are growing in Baltimore, where a community wants answers in the Gray’s death.

As protesters chanted, “No justice, no peace!” Tuesday evening, Gray’s distraught mother, Gloria Darden, collapsed in tears at the spot where her son was arrested this month. She was whisked away.

Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died of a spinal injury on Sunday, one week after he was taken into custody.

The demonstrations are gaining momentum. The crowd was back late Wednesday, and on Thursday, a rally is planned in front of City Hall.

“We won’t stop,” one man said Tuesday. “We have the power and, of course, today shows we have the numbers.”

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she understands where the protesters are coming from. She understands their frustration.

“Mr. Gray’s family deserves justice, and our community deserves an opportunity to heal, to get better and to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again,” she said.

But not everyone is pleased by the presence of protesters. A statement from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 compared the demonstrations to a “lynch mob.”

“While we appreciate the right of our citizens to protest and applaud the fact that, to date, the protests have been peaceful, we are very concerned about the rhetoric of the protests. In fact, the images seen on television look and sound much like a lynch mob in that they are calling for the immediate imprisonment of these officers without them ever receiving the due process that is the constitutional right of every citizen, including law enforcement officers,” it read.

Feds getting involved
The increasing public pressure comes as the Department of Justice announced it was opening an investigation into the case.

A spokesman said the agency is investigating whether Gray’s civil rights were violated during the April 12 arrest.

An autopsy found that Gray died from a spinal cord injury, but Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez told reporters Monday that there is no indication how the injury occurred.

Continue reading »

2 Officers Shot at Ferguson Protest Marking Police Chief’s Resignation

Now-resigned Ferguson Police Chief, Thomas Jackson

Now-resigned Ferguson Police Chief, Thomas Jackson

Two police officers have been shot during a protest outside the Ferguson police headquarters early this morning. The shooting came just hours after Police Chief Thomas Jackson quit following last week’s Justice Department report finding widespread racial bias in the city’s criminal justice system. Jackson is the sixth Ferguson official to be forced out in the wake of the report, including the city manager and the top municipal judge. Police say both of the wounded officers have “serious” injuries.

Original article »

How Delaware reviews police deadly force debated

University of Michigan School of Engineering senior William Royster, 21, stands with the words “#Black Lives Matter” on tape over his mouth

University of Michigan School of Engineering senior William Royster, 21, stands with the words “#Black Lives Matter” on tape over his mouth

The Delaware Attorney General does not use the grand jury as an investigative body as was done in Ferguson and Staten Island. Local critics charge that the state’s review process is similarly flawed and should a similar situation arise here, the review will not earn the public’s trust.

Currently, a unit the Delaware Attorney General’s Office looks into every police use of deadly force in the state, including when a person is injured and not just when there is a death. A public report is then released by the office.

“There should be a third party without a vested interest,” said Richard Smith, president of the Delaware NAACP. “So the truth comes out.”

Rev. Derrick Johnson, who led a protest march to Wilmington Police Headquarters earlier this month, issued a similar call for a new, independent body – like a special prosecutor – to review citizen claims against police.

ACLU Delaware Executive Director Kathleen MacRae said police are “the only quasi-military body permitted to use force against American citizens in this country with no civilian oversight.”

She said the relationship between law enforcement and the prosecutors’ office is too “intimate” to allow for a dispassionate and unbiased review of police actions, and that some kind of outside organization should be created to conduct such reviews.

Civil rights attorney Thomas Neuberger, who has been involved in a number of civil lawsuits against Delaware police agencies, charged that “there is no hope in Delaware or anywhere in the country that police departments will be held accountable criminally for deaths of unarmed civilians.”

“The only remedy for victims of police brutality is in the civil courts,” he said.

Delaware Fraternal Order of Police President Fred Calhoun said that the state has a good process in place that has never provoked the backlash that is going on elsewhere. As a result, he said he does not favor changing Delaware’s review process, “when we haven’t shown there is a reason to change our system.”

Civil rights attorney David Finger, who has clashed with state officials over other civil rights issues in the past, agreed with Calhoun, saying that just because there are problems elsewhere does not mean there are problems here.

“You have to be careful not to take extreme examples and treat them as the norm,” said Finger.

The situations in Ferguson and Staten Island appear to be anomalies, he said. But he added that it is always good for a government or organization to periodically review how it is operating. “But you shouldn’t start with the assumption that it is broken.”

Tim Mullaney, chief of staff for Attorney General Beau Biden, defended the current system, saying it is far more than a cursory review. It is a full investigation, he said, with Department of Justice investigators who have arrest powers and who go to the scene of incidents and sit in on police interviews and create their own independent report.

The investigators are usually from the fraud division of the Attorney General’s Office and generally don’t have day-to-day interaction with police like employees in the criminal division, said Mullaney, a former U.S. Marshal and Dover Police officer.

Mullaney said if the use of force is justified, he writes up a short, usually two- to three-page public report explaining the finding. If the use of force is not justified, then the officer would be arrested and it would proceed through the criminal justice system like any other case.

Since 2008, Mullaney said he has issued at least 30 reports on police use of force. He said he first started reviewing use of force investigations when he was chief of the fraud division and continued in that role when he became Biden’s chief of staff.

But in all those reports, and as far as anyone can tell in the many years before Mullaney, there has never been a finding by the Delaware Attorney General that the use of force by police was not justified.

“The bottom line: it is what it is. The facts determine what it is,” Mullaney said, adding that to explain why there has never been a finding against police is a near-impossible task because it is like asking him to “argue a negative.”

While there may not be much formal contact between investigators from the fraud division and police, many investigators are former Delaware police officers, including retirees from the Wilmington and New Castle County police.

Continue Reading »