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Tag: civil rights

FBI Plans to Take Months to Investigate Chokehold Death of Eric Garner

Eric Garner with his children, via National Action Network

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI’s investigation into the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City will take several months and only recently got off the ground, ABC News reports.

The federal government hasn’t set a timeline for the probe, which will be watched nationwide as protests continue to spring up after a grand jury decided not to indict the officer.

The FBI is beginning to collect evidence from the State Island district attorney’s office.

The federal probe is running concurrently with an NYPD internal investigation.

The FBI investigation is focused on whether a hate crime was committed when police officers were engaged in the July 17 altercation, which was caught on cell phone video.

Justice Department to Launch Civil Rights Investigation into Eric Garner’s Death

Eric Garner with his children, via National Action Network

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Soon after a grand jury declined to indict a white New York City cop in the death of Eric Garner, a black man who was selling cigarettes, the Justice Department will conduct its own civil rights investigation.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference today that Attorney General Eric Holder was preparing to closely examine the case to determine whether civil rights charges are warranted, the Huffington Post reports.

“They made clear that the investigation initiated by the U.S. attorney would now move forward, move expeditiously, and be a thorough investigation,” de Blasio said.

The announcement comes after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantelo, who placed Garner in a chokehold after arresting him on July 17 for selling single cigarettes.

In a video, Garner can be heard screaming, “I can’t breathe,” before his body went limp.

A medical examiner determined Garner’s death was a homicide caused by the chokehold.

Statement From Attorney Eric Holder:

Good evening. I want to provide an update regarding the case involving Eric Garner, a Staten Island resident, who died tragically in July.

Since Mr. Garner’s death, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the Civil Rights Division and the FBI have been monitoring the local case closely while allowing the local investigation, led by the District Attorney’s office in Staten Island, to proceed first.

Earlier today, the grand jury declined to return an indictment in this case. Now that the local investigation has concluded, I am here to announce that the Justice Department will proceed with a federal civil rights investigation into Mr. Garner’s death.

This afternoon I spoke with the widow of Eric Garner to inform her and her family of our decision to investigate potential federal civil rights violations. I have been in touch with President Obama and Mayor de Blasio regarding our decision as well.

Our prosecutors will conduct an independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation.

In addition to performing our own investigative work, the Department will conduct a complete review of the material gathered during the local investigation.

Read more »

Grand Jury Decision in Ferguson Won’t Stop Justice Department Investigation

By Steve Neavling
www.ticklethewire.com

Chaos erupted in pockets of Ferguson Monday night after a grand jury decided not to charge a white police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager.

So what’s next? The Justice Department is investigating whether Officer Darren Wilson violated the civil rights of Michael Brown. But don’t expect him to be charged, the Washington Post reports.

The Justice Department also will be examining the policing practices in what likely will lead to wholesale reforms, the Los Angeles Times reported. Investigators will be reviewing excessive force cases and arrest reports in search of a pattern of violating residents’ rights.

Reforms are more common than charges, the LA Times wrote.

Although civil rights investigations tend to drag on, Attorney General Eric Holder said he hopes to wrap up the probe by the time he leaves office, possibly as early as February.

Were Police in Ferguson Heavy-Handed During Response to Protests? Justice Department Investigates

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has launched a review of the police response to 16 days of Ferguson protests in wake of the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen, CNN reports.

The review will examine the handling of crowd control, protesters and the media.

The task will be undertaken by a 12-person team that will include Justice Department officials and current and former police chiefs.

The assessment started last week.

Attorney General Eric Holder has criticized the police response, which has been widely considered heavy-handed.

The review comes as law enforcement braces for the outcome of the grand jury that will decide whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.

Justice Department Lacks Evidence to Warrant Civil Rights Charges Against Ferguson Cop

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Not enough evidence exists to bring civil rights charges against the white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, investigators for the Justice Department said.

The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department is reluctant to acknowledge the lack of evidence because of high tensions in the greater St. Louis area.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon maintains the case is still open.

“This is an irresponsible report by The Washington Post that is based on idle speculation,” Fallon said in a statement.

But the Post interviewed other law enforcement officials who said it was not premature to conclude the investigation is ending.

“The evidence we have makes federal civil rights charges unlikely,” one said.

 

Justice Department Launches Independent Review of Baltimore Police Department After Complaints

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Department of Justice is launching an independent review of Baltimore’s police force following a string of complaints from residents about excessive force and other alleged abuses, the Baltimore Sun reports.

But instead of launching a full-scale civil rights investigation, the Department of Justice will work directly with police – an approached called a collaborative review.

“The civil rights division is a part of the process,” U.S. Attorney Ronald L. Davis said, “and they retain the ability to come into Baltimore if reform is not made, if recommendations are not implemented. … Nothing is off the table.”

The request follows a Baltimore Sun report that revealed the city paid out $5.7 million in court settlements and judgments over alleged police misconduct since 2011. Virtually every officer involved has never been charged.

The review will include consultants working with community members, elected leaders, cops and union officials. The consultants also will ride with officers and review the culture, practices and polices of the police department, the Sun wrote.

“This is very strong process,” Davis said during a news conference at the U.S. attorney’s office in Baltimore. “I want to reassure the community this is about helping the city of Baltimore reform. This is not about forcing them to reform in a way that we decided.”

From Good to Great: AG Eric Holder Championed for Civil Rights Like No One Before Him

By Jamelle Bouie
Slate

On Thursday the families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner joined with the NAACP, the National Urban League, the National Action Network, the National Bar Association, and the Black Women’s Roundtable to call for a full federal investigation in the police killings of the two young men.

The Rev. Al Sharpton was part of the event, and he was about to take questions from those assembled when the news broke that Attorney General Eric Holder intended to resign from the administration. Naturally, Sharpton had a few words for the occasion.

“There is no attorney general who has shown a commitment to civil rights like Eric Holder,” said Sharpton, “If he is resigning, the civil rights community is losing the most effective civil rights attorney general in American history.”

That is high praise, but it’s hard to say it’s unreasonable or unjustified. When President Obama entered office, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department was in shambles, neglected by President Bush and staffed with a coterie of partisan operatives. Long-serving lawyers left the office, case files were closed with little explanation, political appointees sought to block liberals from career positions, and anti-discrimination efforts were few and far between.

At his confirmation hearing at the beginning of Obama’s term, Holder made the Civil Rights Division his priority.

To that end, Holder took aggressive steps to repair the damage of the previous administration and restore the traditional priorities of the Civil Rights Division. On voting rights, Holder was a strong advocate against voter identification laws, attacking the 2012 Texas law as a “political pretext to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right” and comparing some practices to Jim Crow laws. “Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them—and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes,” he said.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest

Justice Department Investigating Police-Involved Shooting of Black Man at Wal-Mart Store

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s increased reviews of police department practices has reached Ohio after a grand jury opted no to indict officers involved in the unusual fatal shooting of a man at a Ohio Wal-Mart, the Associated Press reports.

Pledging a “thorough and independent” investigation, the Justice Department said it’s trying to determine whether any civil rights laws were violated in the Aug. 5 death of John Crawford III, 22.

Crawford, who is black, reportedly was waving a gun in the store and didn’t obey commands when police arrived.

Police shot and killed Crawford. Turns out, he had an air rifle taken from the Wal-Mart shelf.

“The Crawford family is extremely disappointed, disgusted and confused,” the family said in a statement. “They are heartbroken that justice was not done in the tragic death of their only son.”

Other Stories of Interest