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Crime Rochester police sued over "inhumane" use of force

05:50  06 april  2021
05:50  06 april  2021 Source:   cbsnews.com

Class-action federal civil rights suit filed against Rochester police and city officials alleging racism and excessive force

  Class-action federal civil rights suit filed against Rochester police and city officials alleging racism and excessive force A class-action civil lawsuit filed in federal court on Monday accuses the Rochester, New York, Police Department (RPD) of racist practices and a "pattern and practice of using excessive force."The plaintiffs include individuals who claim they were subjected to excessive force and/or falsely arrested during protests over the death of Daniel Prude, who died in police custody in March 2020. They say officers responded with "the use of extreme violence and militarized police tactics," which included batons, tear gas, flash-bang grenades, armored vehicles and police dogs, the suit said.

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How Police Dragged Most Wanted Criminal from Under His bed. Trump Administration Exposed In Multi-Million Covid-19 Tender Scandal. DCI Forced to Apologize Over Insensitive Tweet. “The inhumane punishment meted on the victim, on suspicion of having committed a crime is not only callous but uncalled for, and an affront to the victim’s fundamental rights and freedoms, In this regard, the DCI is demanding that the suspect presents himself to the nearest Police Station within 24 hours, failure to which he will be declared a dangerous and wanted criminal,” DCI tweeted.

A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed Monday against city and police officials in Rochester, New York, alleging decades of "inhumane" and racist police violence against demonstrators and residents. The lawsuit comes more than a year after Daniel Prude died in police custody, which led to national condemnation of police use of force in the city.

a group of people walking down the street: US-POLITICS-RACISM-POLICE © MARANIE R. STAAB/AFP via Getty Images US-POLITICS-RACISM-POLICE

"Simply put, a stunning historical record spanning more than four decades demonstrates that the Rochester Police Department's use-of-force practices continue to be inhumane, racist, and antithetical to the functioning of a civilized society," the lawsuit states.

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Even though no drugs were found, the judge ruled that the police acted on a reasonable suspicion given that the woman’s boyfriend was a suspected drug trafficker. Jennifer Koster claimed she had been subjected to inhumane treatment by the police after she was arrested in 2015 on suspicion of drug trafficking. She told the First Hall of the Civil Court in its constitutional jurisdiction that she had been arbitrarily detained and kept under arrest for 16 hours despite repeatedly insisting that she was not carrying drugs. The woman, born in the Dominican Republic, also claimed she was not told about her

The lawsuit, filed by a group of lawyers, activists and people who attended protests in the city, alleges that police in Rochester routinely deploy excessive force against minorities, especially during protests, and that department and city officials have let such conduct go largely unpunished. The nearly 100-page document details more than 50 instances of alleged police abuse against people of color, for which the vast majority of officers were never formally disciplined.

As an example of the pattern of alleged conduct, the lawsuit focuses heavily on the use of force against demonstrators, medics, journalists and legal observers who took to the streets in September 2020 to protest Prude's death.

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Victims of serious crime should not be allowed to use the Human Rights Act to sue the police , lawyers for the Home Office will argue in a Supreme Court test case. Two women attacked by the “black cab rapist” John Worboys won a civil case in 2014 against the London Metropolitan Police after the court found their human rights had been violated by the force ’s failures in the investigation. Scotland Yard were found to have violated the women's right to freedom from inhumane or degrading treatment (PA). “Instead they are using taxpayers’ money to drag these women through yet another court hearing

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Prude, a Black man, died last March after he suffered a mental health episode and his family called police for help. At approximately 3:15 a.m. on March 23, Rochester police said they found Prude lying naked in the middle of the street.

a group of items on a table: No charges for police in Daniel Prude's death... 03:17 © Provided by CBS News No charges for police in Daniel Prude's death... 03:17

While Prude complied with their orders to lay in his stomach and allowed himself to be handcuffed, he then sat up and started yelling at officers, according to body camera footage of the interaction. Police then put a spit hood over his head and pressed his face into the ground for more than three minutes. Prude eventually became unresponsive, and later died at a hospital.

The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, attributing it to "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint," as well as "excited delirium" and PCP intoxication. A grand jury declined to charge the officers involved in Prude's death in February.

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The force said child sexual exploitation inquiries were complex and could take a long time. Two former senior officers are being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over their handling of exploitation allegations in Sheffield. Mr Betts, chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said: "I think it's time now for an independent thorough inspection into South Yorkshire Police and everything to do with this matter of failing to deal with child sexual exploitation over the years.

There, she was forced to work, unpaid and sometimes beaten, until the Soviets liberated her, allowing her to return home. Up until her death in 2013, she hardly mentioned her time in Germany. Her story is far from unique: according to the Nuremberg Trials about 4.9 million Soviet For the Ostarbeiter, forced to live thousands of kilometers from home, fate was like the lottery. Metallurgical plants, mines and farms needed workers, and where they ended up depended on who paid the most. “When we arrived, there was a transfer point, I would call it a slave market,” said Fedor Panchenko from Ukraine.

The circumstances surrounding Prude's death did not become public until September 2020, when Prude's family released body camera footage of the incident at a press conference on September 2. The news sparked immediate outrage and the first protest occurred later that night.

During that protest and the demonstrations in the weeks that followed, the lawsuit alleges that Rochester police used "extreme and unnecessary force" including tear gas, pepper spray, blunt-impact projectiles, pepper balls and other "less-than-lethal" weapons. Over the first three nights of protests, authorities deployed 77 tear gas canisters and 6,100 pepper bullets, the lawsuit says.

"To be blunt, what I've witnessed has been nothing short of abject terror, carnage and unwarranted brutalization," Rochester photojournalist Reynaldo DeGuzman, who attended the protests, said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit, according to CBS affiliate WROC.

a group of people walking down a street at night: Rochester Police use Pepper spray and tear gas as protesters gather in Rochester, New York, on September 5, 2020, on the fourth night of protest following the release of video showing the death of Daniel Prude.  / Credit: MARANIE R. STAAB/AFP via Getty Images © Provided by CBS News Rochester Police use Pepper spray and tear gas as protesters gather in Rochester, New York, on September 5, 2020, on the fourth night of protest following the release of video showing the death of Daniel Prude.  / Credit: MARANIE R. STAAB/AFP via Getty Images

The lawsuit details dozens of instances of alleged police violence at the protests, including a September 3 incident in which an officer allegedly shot a man in the eye with a pepper ball at "close range," leaving him permanently blind. Officers are accused of then "intentionally" firing at the medics who attempted to provide aid — despite the medics allegedly wearing bright red jackets identifying who they were.

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On September 4, Rochester resembled "a war zone," with officers "unleashing flash grenades, tear gas, and thousands of pepper balls on the crowd," the lawsuit said.

That night, police allegedly trapped a group of protesters on a bridge — a tactic commonly known as "kettling" — before attacking them with a number of weapons. "Videos from that night show heavily armored phalanxes of police using pepper balls, 40mm kinetic bullets, tear gas, and batons to assault diverse groups of protesters outfitted only with umbrellas, cardboard boxes, and plastic children's sleds against the RPD's military grade arsenal," the lawsuit says.

"In New York City, for example, which saw thousands of demonstrators take to the streets, NYPD officers fired not one pepper ball," the lawsuit added. "By contrast, one RPD officer the night of September 4, 2020, fired 148 pepper balls in the span of just twenty minutes."

a group of people in a dark room with an umbrella: Protestors use umbrellas as protection against tear gas launched by Rochester police during a Daniel Prude protest in Rochester, New York, United States on September 5, 2020.  / Credit: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images © Provided by CBS News Protestors use umbrellas as protection against tear gas launched by Rochester police during a Daniel Prude protest in Rochester, New York, United States on September 5, 2020.  / Credit: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The lawsuit also accuses city officials of running a "sham internal disciplinary system" and refusing to hold officers who used excessive force either during the protests or in their daily work accountable.

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Out of 923 civilian allegations of excessive force between 2001 and 2016, the police chief only sustained 1.7%, the lawsuit says. The strictest penalty administered in those 16 sustained cases "were 6 suspensions, most ranging from 1 to 20 days."

"By failing to meaningfully train, supervise, and discipline officers who use excessive force and instead suppressing evidence of officer misconduct and attacking critics of the department, the City has fostered a culture of violence and impunity in its ranks," the lawsuit says.

In a statement to CBS News, the city said Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren "welcomes" a Department of Justice investigation into the police department, and cited recent reforms the city has implemented, including requiring new officers to live in the city and allowing the mayor to fire officers for cause.

The lawsuit names Rochester city and police officials, as well as hundreds of police officers, as defendants, and seeks monetary damages and the appointment of an independent monitor for the police department, among other requests.

"Absent external enforcement, the system will not change itself: to date, the Department has not fired or disciplined any of the officers known to have engaged in the use of excessive force against Daniel Prude or any of the officers who engaged in blatant displays of force during the September 2020 protests, including those captured on video," the lawsuit says, adding, "Plaintiffs bring this suit to end the RPD's decades-long use of violent, unconstitutional force—before more lives, more Black and brown lives, are lost."

Neither the Rochester Police Department nor the union representing the officers immediately responded to CBS News' request for comment.

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