13 per cent of Ferguson cops have faced excessive force lawsuits

Matthew Champion@matthewchampion
Sunday 31 August 2014 16:10

Remember Ferguson? The St Louis suburb, Missouri, was the scene of some of the worst race-related unrest in the US since the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Demonstrations were sparked by the August 9 death of black teenager Michael Brown, who was shot six times by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, who remains under investigation.

According to the Washington Post, six other Ferguson officers - five current and one former - have been named in civil rights lawsuits alleging the use of excessive force.

That means 13 per cent of the 53-strong department has faced such investigations, compared to a national average of around 0.5 per cent of all police officers, as calculated by the Cato Institute's National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project.

Ferguson police officers have fought a variety of allegations, including:

  • Killing a mentally ill man with a Taser
  • Pistol-whipping a child
  • Choking and hogtying a child
  • Beating a man later charged with destroying city property because his blood got on to officers' clothes

The cases themselves are fairly extraordinary - so is the volume. It's prima facie evidence of discriminatory practices. I would be surprised if [the Justice Department] didn't make a recommendation that they be placed under scrutiny.

  • Clarence Harmon, former St Louis Mayor and city police chief

In all but one of the cases, the victims were black, while one of the officers involved was African-American.

In one lawsuit the officer was found not liable, although the department paid out a settlement, with four pending and one on appeal.

The Ferguson Police Department declined to comment.

Hat-tip: The Washington Post

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