This week U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez announced the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division would be opening a broader inquiry into the Portland Police Department. The investigation is to determine whether or not there is a pattern of civil rights abuses within the city by the local police. The announcement comes after the urging by many high powered local officials.
Portland isn’t the only city undergoing such an in-depth inquiry. Both Seattle and Newark are in the same boat and Denver might not be far behind. This renewed interest in civil rights allegations has been spurred by the Obama Administration’s said-dedication to the matter following years of little action under the Bush Administration.
The former police commissioner and now city commissioner, Dan Saltzman called on the feds to launch the investigation several months ago. He was joined in supporting the inquiry by several civil rights groups and the Mayor.
The announcement comes just days after a letter was sent to the mother of 23 year old Aaron Campbell, alerting her that the feds wouldn’t be pursuing criminal charges against the police officer who fatally shot and killed Campbell in January 2010. On that winter day, cops were called out because Campbell was suicidal after the death of his 25 year old brother. He exited the home backwards upon police request with his hands interlaced at the back of his head. He was shot with six beanbag rounds before an officer fired a lethal round from his AR-15.
No criminal charges will be brought because the feds didn’t feel they could meet the burden of proof. In a case like this, they would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully deprived Campbell of his rights. This means, according to the Oregonian, that “accident, mistake, fear, negligence, or bad judgment are insufficient to establish a criminal violation.”
The effects of this inquiry depend on what the DOJ finds. They could make recommendations or monitor the department if it’s found that there is a pattern of abuses.
You don’t have to be a victim of police brutality to be frightened when you are facing criminal charges. Nearly anyone would be apprehensive about the possibility for jail time or a tarnished record. If you’re up against criminal charges, contact us today.