Tag: police misconduct

Los Angeles to Pay $24 Million to Two Men Imprisoned for Decades After Wrongful Murder Convictions

The Los Angeles City Council agreed Tuesday to pay more than $24 million to settle lawsuits from two men who alleged that investigations by dishonest Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detectives led to their wrongful murder convictions and caused them to spend decades behind bars.

Kash Delano Register, who won his freedom in 2013 after lawyers and students from Loyola Law School cast doubt on the testimony of a key prosecution witness, will receive $16.7 million — the largest settlement in an individual civil rights case in the city’s history, his attorneys said. Bruce Lisker, who was released from prison in 2009 after a Times investigation into his conviction, will get $7.6 million.

Though the cases were unrelated, both men contended that detectives ignored evidence of their innocence and fabricated evidence of their guilt.

City lawyers concerned about the police misconduct allegations recommended the settlements, saying in confidential memos to the City Council obtained by The Times that taking the cases to trial could be even more financially devastating.

“This is an extremely dangerous case,” city attorneys wrote of the Lisker case. And Register’s case was even “more problematic,” they said.

“Today’s action helps make amends for the many years these men will never get back, and for lives that will never be the same,” said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer.

City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who heads the budget committee that weighs settlement payments, said the two cases were the “very unfortunate” result of police misconduct in the past, but did not reflect how the department operates today.  “It’s just regrettable that these two individuals spent the better part of their lives in prison as a result of the inadequacy of the investigations that happened back then,” Krekorian said.

Register, who has always maintained his innocence, spent 34 years in custody after being convicted of the 1979 armed robbery and murder of Jack Sasson, 78.  The case against Register was based on eyewitness testimony. No murder weapon was recovered and none of the fingerprints lifted at the West Los Angeles crime scene matched Register’s. Police seized a pair of his pants that had a speck of blood on them, but the blood type matched both Sasson’s and Register’s. Register’s girlfriend testified that he was with her at the time of the shooting.

A key prosecution witness in the case was Brenda Anderson, who told police she heard gunshots and saw Register sprinting away from the scene. She picked him out of a photo lineup, police said. But Anderson’s sisters said they told police that her account wasn’t true.

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Chicago Protesters Shut Down Michigan Ave. on Black Friday to Protest Shooting Death of #LaquanMcDonald

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Chicago Protest on Black Friday in honor of Laquan McDonald (Photo: Kelly Hayes via Twitter)

Thousands of protesters braved rain and chilly temperatures to flood Chicago’s high-end shopping district Friday to demand justice in the wake of the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald

Tuesday, the city released the heartbreaking video of McDonald’s shooting and announced former Chicago PD officer Jason Van Dyke would be charged with first-degree murder. The timing of the announcement angered many who wondered why it took more than a year to charge Van Dyke given video evidence that he shoot the teen 16 times, 14 of which came while McDonald lay on the ground.

Today, thousands of protesters took to Michigan Avenue, one of Chicago’s premier shopping districts, to demand the mayor, police commissioner, and state’s attorney resign. Continue reading “Chicago Protesters Shut Down Michigan Ave. on Black Friday to Protest Shooting Death of #LaquanMcDonald”

Black Lawyers to Challenge Police Brutality in 25 Cities

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – In an effort to combat police brutality in the Black community, the National Bar Association (NBA) recently announced plans to file open records requests in 25 cities to study allegations of police misconduct.

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National Bar Association President Pamela J. Meanes

Pamela Meanes, president of the Black lawyers and judges group, said the NBA had already been making plans for a nationwide campaign to fight police brutality when Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a White police officer following a controversial midday confrontation in a Ferguson, Mo.

Meanes called police brutality the new civil rights issue of this era, an issue that disproportionately impacts the Black community.

“If we don’t see this issue and if we don’t at the National Bar Association do the legal things that are necessary to bring this issue to the forefront, then we are not carrying out our mission, which is to protect the civil and political entities of all,” said Meanes.

The NBA, which describes itself as “the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges,” selected the 25 cities based on their African-American populations and reported incidents of police brutality.

The lawyers group will file open records requests in Birmingham, Ala.; Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix; Los Angeles; San Jose, Calif., Washington, D.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Miami; Atlanta; Chicago; Louisville, Ky.; Baltimore, Md.; Detroit; Mich.; Kansas City, Mo.; St. Louis, Mo.; Charlotte, N.C.; Las Vegas, Nev.; New York City; Cleveland, Ohio; Memphis, Tenn., Philadelphia; Dallas; Houston; San Antonio, Texas, and Milwaukee, Wis.

In a press release about the open records requests, the group said it will not only seek information about “the number of individuals who have been killed, racially profiled, wrongfully arrested and/or injured while pursued or in police custody, but also comprehensive data from crime scenes, including “video and photographic evidence related to any alleged and/or proven misconduct by current or former employees,” as well as background information on officers involved in the incidents.

Not only will the NBA present their findings to the public, but the group also plans to compile its research and forward the data over to the attorney general’s office.

Meanes said the group’s ultimate goal is to have a conversation with Attorney General Eric Holder and to ask, and in some cases, demand he seize police departments or take over or run concurrent investigations.

Meanes said federal law prohibits the Justice Department from going into a police department unless a pattern or history of abuse has been identified.

“The problem is that the information needed for that action is not readily available in a comprehensive way on a consistent basis with the goal of eradicating that abuse,” said Meanes, adding that the open records request is the best way to get that information.

Meanes said that the NBA was concerned that the trust had already brrn broken between the police force and the residents of Ferguson and that the rebellion and the protests would continue.

“We don’t think St. Louis County should investigate this. We don’t think the prosecutor should investigate this. There should be an independent third-party investigating this and that is the federal government,” said Meanes.

Phillip Agnew, executive director of the Dream Defenders, a civil rights group established by young people of color in the aftermath of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager in Sanford, Fla., said law enforcement officials taunted, antagonized and disrespected peaceful protesters who took to the streets of Ferguson and at times incited the violence they attempted to stamp out in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown.

“An occupying force came into the community, they killed someone from the community, and instead of being transparent and doing everything they could do to make sure the community felt whole again, they brought in more police to suppress folks who were exercising their constitutional rights,” said Agnew.“If your protocol results in greater violence, greater anger, and greater disenchantment of the people, you have to chart a different course.”

On the heels of the NBA announcement, Attorney General Holder launched two initiatives designed to calm anxiety and frustration expressed by Ferguson’s Black residents towards the local police department over allegations of misconduct, harassment and discrimination.

The Justice Department also introduced a “Collaborative Reform Initiative” to tackle similar concerns with the St. Louis County Police Department and to improve the relationship between police officers and the communities they serve.

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