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Police Misconduct

January 9, 2010 | By Nicholas Riccardi
A federal grand jury is investigating Joe Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff known for his aggressive stance on illegal immigration, for possible abuses of power in launching investigations of local officials who disagree with him, authorities said Friday. Two Maricopa County officials have been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury to testify about Arpaio's actions against county officials since they moved to cut his budget in late 2008. Since then Arpaio and County Atty. Andrew Thomas, an ally, have filed criminal charges against two county supervisors, have said dozens of other county workers are under investigation and have filed a federal racketeering lawsuit accusing the entire county political structure of conspiring against them.
December 3, 2009 | By Elaine Woo
Robert Berke, an activist lawyer known for battling government injustice, particularly in defense of poor clients and victims of police misconduct, died Saturday at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica after a sudden illness. He was 61. The cause was meningoencephalitis, an inflammation and infection of the brain and its lining, complicated by pneumonia, said attorney Gigi Gordon, a longtime friend and colleague. Berke practiced law in Los Angeles for 36 years, first as a public defender and later at the Center for Law in the Public Interest and at private firms.
November 11, 2009 | Joel Rubin
An independent examination of how the Los Angeles Police Department investigates officers accused of profiling people based on race, gender or sexual orientation found serious problems with a third of the sampled investigations, the inspector general for the L.A. Police Commission reported Tuesday. In six of 20 LAPD investigations into allegations of "biased policing" -- the department's new name for what has traditionally been termed racial profiling -- police failed to interview witnesses, did not ask important questions or made similar mistakes, concluded Andre Birotte, the inspector general, in the 41-page report.
October 30, 2009 | Andrew Blankstein
A decorated Burbank Police Department sergeant who was named in an FBI probe shot and killed himself on a residential street corner Thursday, authorities said. Burbank police responding to a "shots fired" call about 11:40 a.m. near North Sunset Canyon Drive at East Harvard Road found Neil Thomas Gunn, 50, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police officials called the death of the 22-year veteran "a devastating tragedy" and said the investigation into what led to the suicide would be handled by the neighboring Glendale Police Department.
October 20, 2009 | Scott Glover and Joel Rubin
Second of two parts Michael Slider was home on a day off from his job as a Los Angeles police detective when his phone rang shortly after 10 in the morning. It was his teenage niece. "They shot Grandma. Someone shot Grandma," she said over and over. Slider's mind raced. The girl had spent the night before with her grandmother, Pamela Lark, and Lark's daughter, Khristina Henry. For months, mother and daughter had been living in fear. Slider's stomach tightened with panic as he grabbed his keys.
October 1, 2009 | Andrew Blankstein
FBI officials confirmed Wednesday that they are investigating possible civil rights violations alleged by officers at the Burbank Police Department. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller would not comment on specifics of the probe by the agency's civil rights division or how long the probe would last. At least seven lawsuits alleging a pattern of racial discrimination and retaliation, as well as unlawful demotions or firings, have been filed by officers against the department. Burbank Mayor Gary Bric said he was confident that the investigations into the department, which also includes an independent probe by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, would be thorough and complete.
September 26, 2009 | Victoria Kim
Inglewood residents and community activists this week criticized city officials' decision to withhold from the public a report by an independent consultant who was hired to look into several controversial shootings in which police officers fatally wounded unarmed suspects. "Everybody is waiting and waiting to see what this report says," said Adrianne Sears, chairwoman of Inglewood's Citizen Police Oversight Commission, which has not been given a copy of the report. Tony Muhammad, an activist who has also pressed the City Council for the report, said the lack of transparency has led to "discomfort and distrust" among residents.
September 9, 2009 | Richard Winton
A landmark reform instituted 16 years ago by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to weed out problem deputies has been remarkably successful in identifying officers who have the potential for misconduct and excessive force, according to a report released Tuesday. The study concluded that there is a strong link between the number of complaints filed against a deputy -- proven or not -- and the possibility that the deputy will eventually get into serious trouble and become a liability for the department The monitoring system, which tracks complaints, conduct and use of force, was established in 1993 after a scathing report by a special commission found a "disturbing" pattern of excessive force and mistreatment of minorities in the Sheriff's Department.
July 7, 2009 | Ari B. Bloomekatz
The FBI has opened a criminal investigation into the Inglewood Police Department's fatal shooting of 31-year-old Marcus Smith in May. The criminal probe, which was announced by the city in late June, is at least the third ongoing investigation into the department's use of deadly force. The FBI confirmed that it had opened the investigation, but would not discuss it. The civil rights division of the U.S.
July 1, 2009 | Richard Winton
None of the Los Angeles police officers accused of using excessive force on demonstrators and journalists at a 2007 May Day gathering at MacArthur Park will be fired, officials said Tuesday. Police Chief William J. Bratton had sought to punish 11 officers and called for the termination of four others by sending them to disciplinary panels for their involvement in the melee, which has cost the city $13 million in legal settlements.
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