world : Phoenix police used excessive force, justice department says

world : Phoenix police used excessive force, justice department says
world : Phoenix police used excessive force, justice department says

Friday 14 June 2024 02:30 AM

Nafeza 2 world - Phoenix police engaged in a pattern of misconduct that violated the civil rights of its residents, including unjustified deadly force, the US justice department has said.

In a scathing report, the federal agency detailed cases of excessive force and discrimination against black, Hispanic and Native American residents "when enforcing the law".

Officers also unlawfully detained, ticketed and arrested homeless people, according to the allegations.

But a top police union official called the investigation "illogical".

The Phoenix Police Department said they were analysing the report's findings.

They said they are committed to "continuous improvement by enhancing policy, accountability and training" in the nation's fifth-largest city.

Tuesday's justice department findings are a culmination of a nearly three-year investigation by the agency into abuse allegations dating from 2016.

"This behavior includes improper use of Tasers, projectiles, leg restraints, police dogs and even deadly force, including guns and neck restraints and compression restraints," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke on Tuesday.

"Officers also routinely delay medical aid and employ excessive force on wounded people."

The findings "reveal evidence showing long-standing dysfunction" that "reflect a lack of effective supervision, training and accountability", she said.

Some cases detailed in the report include:

  • Officers noticed a man throwing rocks at their vehicle as they passed. They drove back and approached him with guns drawn. When he went to throw a rock at them, they shot him four times and killed him.

  • Officers opened fire on a woman, who appeared suicidal and had pulled a gun, shooting her 10 times. They waited "more than nine minutes" to attend to her despite her being "immobile on the ground". She later died.

  • Officers shot a man, then fired multiple rounds at him with a "less-lethal projectile launcher", and sent a police dog to drag him to them. They did not render aid for more than nine minutes.

  • After shooting an armed man, officers continued to shoot him with stunbag rounds despite him not trying to get up or retrieve his weapon. A supervisor said there was "no rush" to provide CPR. His heart had stopped when they approached him 15 minutes later and he was pronounced dead.

  • A suicidal man sitting alone in a car park was approached by officers who pulled him from his car and pushed him to the pavement. One of the officers knelt on the back of his neck, while others held him down. One officer fired a Taser at the man.

A local officers' union, the Phoenix Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 2, said, external the report was misleading.

Lou Manganiello, president of the association, said the findings were "full of half-truths, unsubstantiated accusations, and haphazard, illogical conclusions".

The justice department report also found Phoenix police unlawfully detained, cited and arrested homeless people and unlawfully disposed of their belongings.

Between 2016-22, 37% of Phoenix police arrests were homeless people, the report found.

The justice department also accused Phoenix police of firing their guns at people who did not pose an immediate threat as well as putting themselves in situations of "tactical disadvantage" that substantially increased the likelihood they would fire their weapons.

Phoenix police told officers to be "proactive" with projectiles and took the weapons away from officers who did not use them enough, the report found.

So far this year, there have been eight fatal police shootings by Phoenix police - all of which have involved people who were armed, the police department told the Arizona Republic, external.

Ms Clarke said on Tuesday that the justice department will work with Phoenix officials to find a "mutually acceptable" path forward.

“We are taking all allegations seriously and are planning to review this lengthy report with an open mind," said city manager Jeff Barton in a statement.

The justice department has launched 11 investigations into law enforcement agencies around the country since 2021.

That includes Louisville, Kentucky, where police shot and killed Breonna Taylor, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, where George Floyd was killed while being detained by police.

In both of those investigations, the justice department found wrongdoing on the part of the respective police departments, including civil rights violations and use of excessive force.

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