FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
National Bar Association
February 24, 2015
National Bar Association Continues the Call for Justice in Police Excessive Force Cases Across the South, and Throughout the Country
WASHINGTON, DC – As President Obama’s Task Force on Policing in the 21st Century prepares to report their recommendations on addressing unjust police practices at the local, state, and federal levels, more incidents of police use of excessive force in Indiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee remind the public how necessary these proposals are towards ending racial profiling in law enforcement.
In September of 2014, a routine traffic stop transformed into police drawing their guns at a family, smashing the passenger seat window with a baton, tasing the Black male passenger, and dragging him out of the car, before arresting him for resisting law enforcement.
Police officers in Hammond, Indiana pulled over Lisa Mahone and her boyfriend, Jamal Jones, for failure to wear their seat belt. During the stop, Mahone and Jones were asked to produce identification. Mahone complied, but Jones, who was seated in the passenger seat, did not have identification. Instead, he produced a ticket that he received for failure to have insurance. According to Mahone, the police refused to take Jones’ information.
The complaint asserts that Jones began to search through his backpack to retrieve the information the officers requested. However, when the officers drew their guns on the family, one of the officers then smashed his baton through the passenger seat window, spraying shards of glass across the backseat where Mahone’s children – ages 14 and 7 – sat. The entire encounter was recorded on video by Mahone’s 14-year-old. Charges against Jones have since been dropped and the federal lawsuit is still pending.
In December 2013, as Rosi Lopez was up at 6 a.m. getting her 6 and 7-year old sons dressed for school, she had her front door kicked in by members of the Jackson, Mississippi Police Department, along with U.S. marshals, Mississippi State Highway Patrol, and the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office.
The task force raided Lopez’s home based on a murder warrant for Lucious Perkins, a 33-year old Black male. Perkins did not live at the residence, nor did he have a connection to the family. Lopez is a Mexican-American and was born in the Jackson metropolitan area.
According to reports, Lopez rushed out of the home and took her sons to a neighbor’s home, however, police grabbed Lopez by the hair and dragged her back into her house. The raid resulted in anti-Mexican slurs shouts from task force members, beatings, gunfire, and the arrest of Lopez and her family members. Lopez and the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a federal investigation into the incident.
In January 2011, a dashboard camera from a police patrol car captured Tennessee police strip a man half naked before beating and tasering him as he lay handcuffed in the snow. Darrin Ring, a 35-year-old Black male, was beaten for 19 minutes. While in custody, Ring was beaten and tasered again, according to witnesses. After his attorney obtained the video footage, the charges against Ring were dropped and his federal lawsuit against the Humphreys County Sheriff’s Department was settled. The U.S. Department of Justice criminally indicted the department in 2012 for violating civil right laws.
“The National Bar Association has advocated that the grave miscarriage of injustice caused by police brutality will only be corrected by legislative reform at the local, state and federal levels by establishing training, accountability, and de-escalation of the use of force,” stated Pamela Meanes, President of the National Bar Association.
Having submitted model local ordinance to the President Task Force on Policing in the 21st Century, the National Bar Association continues to call on police departments across the country to reform their policies on how they interact with black and brown minority communities in order to ensure equal protection under the law for all.