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Biden DOJ

mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,855

https://news.yahoo.com/ag-garland-reverses-trump-era-171911038.html

The move is one of the first clear indications the Biden administration intends to more aggressively investigate police departments.


by Kristine Phillips

WASHINGTON – Attorney General Merrick Garland reversed a Trump administration policy that restricted the Justice Department's ability to force changes on police departments and other local or state government agencies investigated for abuse.

A memo issued Friday rescinds a previous directive ordering Justice Department attorneys to limit the use of so-called consent decrees. The move – one of the first clear indications that the Biden administration intends to more aggressively investigate police departments accused of civil rights violations – comes on the heels of multiple fatal shootings involving police and amid deepening distrust of law enforcement.

"This memorandum makes clear that the Department will use all appropriate legal authorities to safeguard civil rights and protect the environment, consistent with longstanding Departmental practice and informed by the expertise of the Department’s career workforce," Garland said in a statement.

President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly chosen federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland as his attorney general  Seen here then Vice President Joe Biden congratulates Judge Merrick Garland after he was nominated by President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House March 16 2016 in Washington DC
President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly chosen federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland as his attorney general. Seen here, then Vice President Joe Biden congratulates Judge Merrick Garland after he was nominated by President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House, March 16, 2016 in Washington, DC.
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For years, the Justice Department relied on consent decrees to reform prisons, jails and police departments accused of abuse. These court-enforced agreements with state and local governments enabled judges to ensure that promised changes are underway.

 

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  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,855
     
    • Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington Monday April 26 2021 The Justice Department is opening a sweeping probe into policing in Louisville after the March 2020 death of Breonna Taylor who was shot to death by police during a raid at her home Mandel NganPool via AP
    • FILE - This undated file photo provided by Taylor family attorney Sam Aguiar shows Breonna Taylor in Louisville Ky Taylor a 26-year-old Louisville Ky emergency medical worker studying to become a nurse was shot several times in her hallway after three plainclothes narcotics detectives busted down the door of her apartment in the middle of the night in March 2020 A grand jury brought no charges against officers in her death although one was indicted for shooting into a neighboring home that had people inside Courtesy of Taylor Family attorney Sam Aguiar via AP File
    • FILE - In this March 13 2021 file photo a protester holds up a painting of Breonna Taylor during a rally on the one year anniversary of her death at Jefferson Square Park in Louisville Ky On Friday April 9 2021 Gov Andy Beshear has signed a partial ban on no-knock warrants a year after the fatal shooting of Taylor AP PhotoTimothy D Easley
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    Justice Department Breonna Taylor

    Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington, Monday, April 26, 2021. The Justice Department is opening a sweeping probe into policing in Louisville after the March 2020 death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death by police during a raid at her home. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is opening a sweeping probe into policing in Louisville, Kentucky over the March 2020 death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death by police during a raid at her home, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday.

    It's the second such sweeping probe into a law enforcement agency by the Biden administration in a week.

    The 26-year-old Taylor, an emergency medical technician who had been studying to become a nurse, was roused from sleep by police who came through the door using a battering ram. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired once. A no-knock warrant was approved as part of a narcotics investigation. No drugs were found at her home.

    The investigation announced Monday is into the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government and the Louisville Metro Police Department. It is known as a “pattern or practice” — examining whether there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing — and will be a more sweeping review of the entire police department.

    It will specifically focus on whether the Louisville Metro Police Department engages in a pattern of unreasonable force, including against people engaging in peaceful activities, and will also examine whether the police department conducts unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures and whether the department illegally executes search warrants, Garland said.


    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,855
     
    FBI starts probe into death of Black man killed by deputies
    By BEN FINLEY and JONATHAN DREW
    Today

    ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) — The FBI launched a civil rights probe Tuesday into the death of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man killed by deputies in North Carolina, as his family released an independent autopsy showing he was shot five times, including in the back of the head.

    North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called for a special prosecutor while pressure built on authorities to release body camera footage of last week's shooting. A judge scheduled a hearing Wednesday to consider formal requests to make the video public.

    The FBI’s Charlotte field office, which opened the civil rights investigation into Brown’s death, said in a statement that its agents planned to work closely with the Department of Justice “to determine whether federal laws were violated."

    The independent autopsy was performed Sunday by a pathologist hired by Brown's family. The exam noted four wounds to the right arm and one to the head. The state’s autopsy has not been released yet.

    The family's lawyers also released a copy of the death certificate, which lists the cause of death as a “penetrating gunshot wound of the head.” The certificate, signed by a paramedic services instructor who serves as a local medical examiner, describes the death as a homicide.

    Brown was shot last Wednesday by deputies serving drug-related search and arrest warrants at his house in the North Carolina town of Elizabeth City, about 160 miles northeast of Raleigh.

    The autopsy results come a day after Brown's relatives were shown a 20-second clip of footage from one deputy's body camera. One of the Brown family lawyers, Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, who viewed the video, said Monday that officers opened fire on Brown while he had his hands on the steering wheel of a car. She said the video showed Brown trying to drive away but posing no threat to officers.

    Brown's son Khalil Ferebee questioned why deputies opened fire.

    “Yesterday I said he was executed. This autopsy report shows me that was correct," he said Tuesday at a news conference. “It’s obvious he was trying to get away. It’s obvious. And they’re going to shoot him in the back of the head?”

    The pathologist, North Carolina-based Dr. Brent Hall, noted a wound to the back of Brown’s head from an undetermined distance that penetrated his skull and brain. He said there was no exit wound. Two shots to Brown’s right arm penetrated the skin. Two others shots to the arm grazed him.

    The shooting prompted days of protests and calls for justice and transparency. Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II has said multiple deputies fired shots but released few other details. Seven Pasquotank County deputies have been placed on leave.

    Local clergy members who called a news conference outside of an Elizabeth City church welcomed the FBI's announcement.

    “Amen. Because the people here are inept, incapable and incompetent," said the Rev. William Barber II, who leads the Poor People’s Campaign, referring to local authorities.

    Brown's lawyers also welcomed the federal agency's involvement: “We have great faith that this caliber of an investigation will prevent any obscuring of the facts released to the Brown family and public and will overcome any local bias that may prevent justice from being served.”

    The State Bureau of Investigation began a probe of the shooting shortly after it happened. It initially said that it would turn its findings over to the local district attorney, as is standard under state laws and procedures.

    But the governor, a Democrat, urged the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle the state's case.

    “This would help assure the community and Mr. Brown’s family that a decision on pursuing criminal charges is conducted without bias,” Cooper said in a statement.

    State Attorney General Josh Stein said state law puts control of criminal prosecutions in the hands of the local district attorney, so his office cannot intervene unless asked. He said he has offered assistance to the local prosecutor, but has only received an acknowledgment.

    “For my office to play a role in the prosecution, the District Attorney must request our assistance,” Stein said.

    District Attorney Andrew Womble, who oversees Pasquotank County, issued a statement noting that state law gives him the power to decide on prosecuting crimes in his district and he stands “ready willing and able to fulfill my statutory obligations.”

    Wednesday's court hearing on the video will consider petitions to release the footage, including filings by a media coalition and by the county attorney on behalf of the sheriff. A North Carolina law that took effect in 2016 allows law enforcement agencies to show body camera video privately to a victim's family, but it generally requires a court to approve any public release.

    It's not clear how soon a judge could rule or how quickly the video would be released if the release is approved. In similar cases, it has sometimes taken weeks for the full legal process to play out.

    The slow movement has prompted an outcry from protesters, the family's lawyers and racial justice advocates, who noted that law enforcement agencies in other states have moved faster. In Columbus, Ohio, the day before Brown was shot, body camera footage was released within hours of an officer fatally shooting a 16-year-old Black girl who was swinging a knife at another girl.

    Democrats in the North Carolina General Assembly filed a measure this month proposing that body camera video be released within 48 hours unless a law enforcement agency asks a court to delay its distribution. But the legislation faces long odds with the GOP controlling both chambers of the Legislature.

    A key Republican lawmaker, state Sen. Danny Britt, issued a statement saying GOP lawmakers are open to considering improvements to the current law. But with a hearing set for Wednesday, he said, the process has had little time to unfold.

    ___

    Drew reported from Durham, North Carolina. Associated Press Writer Gary D. Robertson in Raleigh contributed to this report.


    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
  • mickeyratmickeyrat Posts: 20,855
    I recognize this was in the works before now, however.....

    US indicts 3 on hate crime charges in death of Ahmaud Arbery
    By MICHAEL BALSAMO and RUSS BYNUM
    42 mins ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department brought federal hate crimes charges Wednesday in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, charging a father and son who armed themselves, chased and fatally shot the 25-year-old Black man after spotting him running in their Georgia neighborhood.

    Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory, were charged along with a third man, William “Roddie” Bryan, with one count of interference with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels are also charged with using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

    The case is the most significant civil rights prosecution undertaken to date by the Biden administration Justice Department and comes as federal officials have moved quickly to open sweeping investigations into troubled police departments as civil rights takes center stage among the department’s priorities.

    The indictment charges that the McMichaels “armed themselves with firearms, got into a truck and chased Arbery through the public streets of the neighborhood while yelling at Arbery, using their truck to cut off his route and threatening him with firearms.” It also alleges that Bryan got into a truck and then chased Arbery, using the vehicle to block his path.

    Arbery, 25, was killed on Feb. 23, 2020, by three close-range shotgun blasts after the McMichaels pursued him in a pickup truck as he was running through their neighborhood. Arbery had been dead for more than two months when a cellphone video of the shooting was leaked online and a national outcry erupted.

    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case the next day and swiftly arrested Travis McMichael, who fired the shots, his father, and Bryan, a neighbor who joined the pursuit and took the video. The three men remain jailed on state murder charges and are due back in court in May.

    S. Lee Merritt, an attorney for Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, applauded the hate crimes charges Wednesday, tweeting that the federal case would “serve as a fail-safe to the state prosecution.”

    “Hate claimed Ahmaud’s life,” Merritt tweeted. “Our justice system must combat intolerance.”

    The McMichaels’ lawyers have said they pursued Arbery, suspecting he was a burglar, after security cameras had previously recorded him entering a home under construction. They say Travis McMichael shot Arbery while fearing for his life as they grappled over a shotgun.

    Local prosecutors have said Arbery stole nothing and was merely out jogging when the McMichaels and Bryan chased him.

    The Justice Department alleges that the men “used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race.”

    In pretrial court hearings in Georgia, prosecutors have presented evidence that racism may have played a role in the man's death.

    Last June, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation testified Bryan told investigators that Travis McMichael uttered a racist slur right after the shooting as he stood over Arbery, who was bleeding on the ground.

    “Mr. Bryan said that after the shooting took place before police arrival, while Mr. Arbery was on the ground, that he heard Travis McMichael make the statement, ‘f—-ing n—-er,’” GBI agent Richard Dial testified.

    Travis McMichael’s attorneys have denied that he made the remark.

    During a bond hearing in November, prosecutors introduced evidence that Travis McMichael had used racist slurs in a text message and on social media.

    At the time Arbery was killed, Georgia was one of just four U.S. states without a hate crimes law. Amid the outcry over his death, Georgia lawmakers quickly passed a law allowing for an additional penalty for certain crimes found to be motivated by a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, or mental or physical disability.

    The men charged with murdering Arbery won’t face hate crime penalties at the state level because the law was changed after the killing.

    Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said the state case remained a priority, and he commended “this positive development and the continued push to get answers for Ahmaud’s family, community and our state.”

    Attorneys for Travis McMichael said they were disappointed “that the Justice Department bought the false narrative that the media and state prosecutors have promulgated.”

    “There is absolutely nothing in the indictment that identifies how this is a federal hate crime and it ignores without apology that Georgia law allows a citizen to detain a person who was committing burglaries until police arrive,” attorneys Bob Rubin and Jason Sheffield said.

    Gregory McMichael’s attorneys, Frank and Laura Hogue, did not immediately respond Wednesday to an email seeking comment and Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, said he had no immediate comment because he had not read the federal indictment.

    ___

    Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia. Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington and Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.


    _____________________________________SIGNATURE________________________________________________

    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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