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Tag: Justice Department

History Indicates Justice Department Will Have Challenge Landing Prosecution in Ferguson Shooting

Michael Brown

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

What are the chances of the Justice Department landing a criminal prosecution in the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson?

It won’t be easy, the Associated Press reports.

Dozens of FBI agents are in Ferguson, interviewing potential witnesses.

The Justice Department must meet a difficult standard of proof. To prove their case, they need to convince a judge or jury that the officer acted not only with excessive force but willfully violated Michael Brown’s constitutional rights.

“It’s a very difficult standard to meet, and it really is satisfied only in the most egregious cases,” said University of Michigan law professor Samuel Bagenstos, the former No. 2 official in the department’s civil rights division. “Criminal enforcement of constitutional rights is not something that is easily pursued. It really requires building a case very carefully, very painstakingly.”

What still remains unclear is what was happening when the officer pulled the trigger.

Opinion: Justice Department Needs to Oversee Substantial Reforms in Ferguson

Michael Brown

 By William Yeomans
Reuters 

The tragic killing of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson has brought to the surface long-simmering tensions between the Ferguson Police Department and the Missouri community it serves. In the shooting’s immediate aftermath, the focus has been on whether Wilson will be prosecuted criminally and convicted for the shooting. In the longer term, however, the focus must ultimately turn to a broader agenda, including substantial reforms in the Ferguson Police Department if it is to regain the full trust and confidence of the community.

After Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to the St. Louis suburb on Wednesday, he vowed that the Justice Department would stay involved to help heal the relationship between the police department and the public.  While many of the essential facts of the encounter between Brown and Wilson remain unknown, we do know that criminal convictions of police officers for shooting people are few and far between. The killing of Brown may turn out to be the rare incident that results in a criminal conviction by state or federal prosecutors, but statistics suggest that outcome is unlikely.

So what more can Holder and the Justice Department do?  Fortunately, whatever the outcome of the criminal process, they still have important tools at their disposal.

One crucial order of business will be to identify any credible allegations that the Ferguson Police Department used excessive force or other unconstitutional practices in responding to the demonstrations. The department’s frightening display of heavy weaponry established that it overreacted to peaceful protests, as did itsheavy-handed treatment of the press.  It will be essential to launch investigations into the credible allegations and pursue criminal prosecutions if any are appropriate.

The collection of these incidents, as well as incidents in the relatively recent past, will serve a second purpose. The attorney general has authority to investigate and file suit against a police department that has engaged in a pattern of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal laws. The investigation leading to such a suit can include an in-depth examination of the Ferguson Police Department’s use of force, its conduct in searches, surveillance and making arrests (including allegations of racial profiling and other bias) and its procedures for training, supervising and disciplining officers.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST


 

Justice Department: More than 40 FBI Agents Conducting Investigation in Ferguson

Attorney General/DOJ file photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday that more than 40 FBI agent are investigating the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed white teen who was shot by an officer in Ferguson.

Holder issued the following statement Monday after President Obama held a briefing.

“As I informed the President this afternoon, the full resources of the Department of Justice are being committed to our federal civil rights investigation into the death of Michael Brown.

“During the day today, more than 40 FBI agents continued their canvassing of the neighborhood where Michael Brown was shot. As a result of this investigative work, several new interviews have already been conducted.

“Moreover, at my direction, an additional medical examination is being performed on the body of Michael Brown. This autopsy is being performed today by one of the most experienced medical examiners in the United States military. I am confident this additional autopsy will be thorough and aid in our investigation.

“In addition to updating the President on these developments, I informed him of my plan to personally travel to Ferguson Wednesday. I intend to meet with FBI investigators, and prosecutors on the ground from the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office officials about the ongoing investigation.

“I realize there is tremendous interest in the facts of the incident that led to Michael Brown’s death, but I ask for the public’s patience as we conduct this investigation. The selective release of sensitive information that we have seen in this case so far is troubling to me. No matter how others pursue their own separate inquiries, the Justice Department is resolved to preserve the integrity of its investigation. This is a critical step in restoring trust between law enforcement and the community, not just in Ferguson, but beyond.

“In order to truly begin the process of healing, we must also see an end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson. Those who have been peacefully demonstrating should join with law enforcement in condemning the actions of looters and others seeking to enflame tensions.

“To assist on this front, the Department will be dispatching additional representatives from the Community Relations Service, including Director Grande Lum, to Ferguson. These officials will continue to convene stakeholders whose cooperation is critical to keeping the peace. Furthermore, as the President has announced, Ron Davis, our Director of the COPS office, will arrive on the ground in Ferguson Tuesday. Ron has been in touch with local and state officials since last week, providing technical assistance on crowd control techniques and facilitating communications between Missouri officials and other law enforcement officials whose communities have faced similar challenges in the past.”

Accused Stock Fraudsters Make FBI History by Making First Recorded Post-Arrest Statements

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Matthew Bell and Craig Josephburg have made FBI history.

The accused fraudsters were the first suspects to have their confessions electronically recorded under a new Justice Department policy, the New York Daily News reports.

The pair is accused of a massive pump-and-dump stock scheme.

The new policy is intended to get a more accurate look at confessions. Previously, confessions were written down and open to scrutiny.

Justice Department Increases Involvement in Investigation of Shooting in Ferguson

Michael Brown

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A day after zealous police clashed with protesters and fired tear gas at demonstrators and the media, the Justice Department announced it’s increasing its involvement in the review of an officer who shot an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., Time reports.

The efforts include sending advisers to meet with local law enforcement, government leaders and local faith leaders.

The Justice Department also is sending its head of the criminal section of the department’s civil rights division.

Holder suggested in a letter that local police may be escalating tensions.

“The law enforcement response to these demonstrations must seek to reduce tensions, not heighten them,” Holder said.

Michael Brown was killed Saturday by a police officer who witnesses say shot the young man while he was not posing a threat.

Disgruntled Ex-Cop Gains Access to FBI Office Carrying Gun, Fake Badge, Inactive ID Card

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A disgruntled ex-cop with a loaded gun managed to bypass metal detectors and enter an FBI office using a fake police badge and inactive ID card, ABC News reports.

The ease with which the man entered the building has concerned federal authorities.

“He could’ve shot up half the office by that point,” one law enforcement expert told ABC.

Still, the Justice Department insists no one was in danger.

Lawmakers aren’t convinced.

“This latest report of a security breach at a federal building is concerning,” the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., told ABC News in a statement. “After our committee’s close review of the security practices and procedures at federal facilities in the wake of the tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard [last year], it became clear that the quality of the physical security at our federal buildings is in need of improvement, and this incident underscores that finding.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Federal Monitor to Review Newark PD After Numerous Violations Found

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal monitor will investigate and review the Newark Police Department after the Justice Department found that officers routinely violated the constitutional rights of its citizens, The Star-Ledger reports.

The DOJ reached an agreement over the federal monitor with the city of Newark.

A three-year review of the police department found troublesome problems with officers who ignored the rights of residents.

“The people of Newark deserve to be safe, and so do the thousands who come here,” New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.

“They also need to know the police protecting them are doing that important — and often dangerous — work while respecting their constitutional rights.”
Newark will become the first city in New Jersey to come under the overnight of a federal watchdog.

Report: FBI Failed to Reveal Flawed Lab Work in Death Row Cases

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A scathing report accuses the FBI and Justice Department of waiting too long to notify prosecutors of flawed forensic work used in death-row convictions, the Washington Post reports.

The Office of Inspector General reported Wednesday on one of the worst modern scandals involving the FBI lab. The Inspector General found that the Justice Department failed to properly review cases handled by FBI examiners with a history of flawed work.

The report indicates that more than 60 death-row defendants were notified that their cases were handled by 13 lab examiners whose work has been questioned. But it took more than five years to identify those defendants, according to the report.

One man was executed in Texas in 1997 but should not have been because of the FBI’s flawed work, the report states.