Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Violations
While police misconduct is an issue in both the San Gabriel and Inland Empire, it is especially bad in Pomona. Cases often involve the use of excessive force and/or tampering or removal of exculpatory evidence.
As one example, a police officer beat an elderly woman and her husband during a domestic dispute call. In another case, a teenager by the name of Christian Aguilar was beaten at the Fair plex by the Pomona Police Department. The young man was requested to go to a police interview without an attorney which is a violation of the United States Constitution. It was later discovered that a tape of the incident was doctored to make it look the young man was the aggressor. The Department of Justice brought charges against three officers. The defendant officers jury was deadlocked and the worst charge of obstructing justice was an acquittal by the jury. That officer, an attorney is currently suing Pomona.
The Pomona Police Department is currently being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on the grounds that they are applying the law based upon their own input in which they believe that the police officers have to be under the threat of violence to kill someone. The law changed indicating that police officers cannot shoot someone unless it is necessary. Unfortunately, the Pomona Police Department has been using the wrong standard.
There have also been a lot of problems in Inland Empire, and a myriad of cases in Riverside involving exculpatory evidence. In one such case, the district attorney was fired for refusing to hide exculpatory evidence; as a result of that evidence not coming to light, the defendant sat in jail for more than four years for a crime that he did not commit.
Hopefully, new laws will continue to promote more equity, like the recent Senate bill precluding prosecutors from investigating police misconduct if they are receiving money from police unions. Unfortunately, many police unions will fund a candidate or prosecutor who agrees to look the other way when there is police misconduct.
I submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on one of the most recent Pomona budgets, which showed that more than 50 percent goes to the police department, and millions are being spent on police defense and payouts to protect police officers who’ve committed atrocious acts. On April 1, 2019 a request for all payouts for police misconduct for the past five years indicated $3,773,447.01 had been paid for police misconduct.
Police misconduct is everywhere, and something needs to be done about it.
The Criminalization of Youth and the Movement Against It
There are many cases involving excessive police force, and the youth often bear the brunt of it. Many complaints involve the bullying of youth of color by the police, which seems to be something the police believe they can get away with.
La Gente Organizada in Pomona has put out several reports regarding the criminalization of our black and brown youth, and requesting that many cases be investigated. One such case involves Andres Avila, who was murdered by the Pomona police because he filed a complaint after being harassed and beaten up by the police at a Fourth of July party.
One of the reports published by La Gente Organizada shows that the youth are disproportionately and unlawfully stopped. Further, this report indicates that the Pomona Police Department are truly incapable of protecting those it serves and have instead become a major agent of waste and harm. La Gente Organizada a non-profit organization in Pomona continues to advocate for de-investment in the Pomona Police Department and re-investment into evidence-based studies on community safety.
Several other studies that have indicated that the black and brown youth have been unlawfully targeted, which means that the youth are growing up in an environment where they are being discriminated against.
As more and more evidence of police misconduct and disparities comes to light, more people will actively begin joining the movement against it. La Gente Organizada and the ACLU have been at the forefront of several of these movements, and several other groups, including Dr. Blanca Haro, are studying the problem and making their data available. However, there are also several groups that have backed the police including think tanks geared toward protecting the police.
Monitoring the Police
There are sophisticated ways to monitor the police, such as by obtaining video footage from the body cameras worn by police officers. There have been several FOIA requests for this type of footage, which has allowed people to quickly obtain evidence of how a shooting and/or killing by the police occurred. In the past, video footage was not available in the public record, but recent laws have changed that for situations involving suspected police misconduct, such as the use of excessive force and/or use of a firearm by the police.
Fighting Against Civil Rights Violations By the Police
Many people who sustain injuries or injustice at the hands of the police feel overwhelmed and do not take action because they believe there is no recourse for them. However, it’s important for people to understand that there are ways for civil rights violations cases to be prosecuted.
An increasing number of civil rights attorneys are becoming interested in taking these types of cases. Although the police are very rarely prosecuted, they can still be sued for unlawful use of excessive force or false arrest.
In most cases, once a victim learns that they do have options for pursuing justice after their civil rights have been suppressed, they choose to take action.
For more information on Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Violations, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (909) 469-5111 today.
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