The release of the David Master tape six years after Masters was unjustly killed by the Fairfax County Police is sort of-kind-of- progress….like when they come up with a cure for a disease after everybody’s dead…..that kind of progress.
But progress it is.
In the end result, the department did the right thing. It investigated itself, found a gun happy loon had slipped on to the force and fired him for the public good and safety.
Terrible things happen in life.
One young man is dead and another has ruined his career. People understand that sort of thing, especially under the circumstances that the tape shows. Frankly, if I was chasing a guy through traffic at high speeds and he was stopped and then lunged forward, even by mistake, I’m not sure what I would do in the same situation. But one thing I know that I would do, in fact I’m positive I would do, is that I would explain myself. It’s one of those social niceties people expect after you kill a guy in public.
But the cops didn’t do that. Well they did, but it took them six to do it.
The department took the arrogant route, said nothing, explained nothing and pissed off everybody. Instead of releasing that information to the public…that one trigger happy cop made a tragic mistake…..the department said nothing, explained nothing, further damaged the county’s reputation and brought themselves another inch closer to federal oversight. (Yeah, that could still happen)
The American people are fair and reasonable and almost always support and appreciate their local police and to prove it all the cops had to say was “A police guy did something stupid and tragic, here’s the tape to prove it and we fired him, we’re ready to take the blame for his actions and we understand the anger over it. We’re sorry it happened and we’re doing the best we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again”
Now how hard would that be?
Statement from Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler
May, 6, 2015 - In an effort to continue with increasing our transparency and the public trust, I have exercised my discretion under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act by authorizing the release of the in-car video from the criminal investigation into the officer-involved shooting of David Masters that occurred in the Mount Vernon District on Friday, November 13, 2009.
Based on several requests, the video was provided to the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission and is posted here.
In reaching my decision to release the in-car video, I considered the following factors: the local criminal investigation has been completed; the U.S. Department of Justice criminal investigation has been completed; and there is no pending or threatened civil litigation.
The involved officer was found to be in administrative violation of the Police Department’s General Order 540.1, Use of Force, and is no longer a member of the Fairfax County Police Department.
I recognize the value of releasing the video to the community we proudly serve.
By MATT APUZZO and SHERYL GAY STOLBERG
New York Times
MAY 7, 2015
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department will investigate whether the Baltimore Police Department engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional policing, law enforcement officials said on Thursday, a day after the mayor asked for an inquiry.
The request by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake came days after the state’s attorney for Baltimore filed criminal charges against six officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, who died April 19 after being injured while in police custody. His death set off large demonstrations, arson and looting.
At a policing conference earlier on Thursday, the Baltimore police commissioner, Anthony W. Batts, said he did not object to an outside investigation, adding that he was committed to reforming the Police Department. He said he recognized that Baltimore residents did not trust the city to make changes voluntarily.
“I am willing to do anything it takes to win that trust back,” he said. “If it’s D.O.J., whatever it takes.”
Protesters said the unrest set off by Mr. Gray’s death was the culmination of years of police mistreatment. The turmoil has dominated Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch’s first days in office.
“The situation in Baltimore involves a core responsibility of the Department of Justice — not only to combat illegal conduct when it occurs, but to help prevent the circumstances that give rise to it in the first place,” Ms. Lynch said on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
There was no immediate reaction from Ms. Rawlings-Blake. Earlier Thursday, the mayor convened business, religious and philanthropic leaders at the intersection of West North and Pennsylvania Avenues, near a CVS store that was looted and burned in last week’s riots, to announce a public-private partnership to improve areas devastated by the unrest. She called it a “once-in-a-generation effort to tackle inequality.”
Ms. Lynch, who took office a week after Mr. Gray died, was in Baltimore this week to meet with community, religious and political leaders about whether to conduct a “pattern or practice” review, which would look into whether police officers used excessive force, carried out street stops based on race or arrested people without probable cause.
Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a Democrat who represents Baltimore — and who lives four blocks from the CVS that was burned — said there was uniform agreement.
“She asked them, ‘How many of you all think we should have a patterns and practices review investigation?’ ” Mr. Cummings recalled in an interview Thursday. “If I remember correctly, all of them raised their hands; there were about 40 of them. And I raised mine too.”
Mr. Cummings said that even before that meeting, he and other members of Congress from Maryland had a conference call with Ms. Lynch shortly after she took office in which he asked for such a review.
The decision by the Justice Department was welcome news to civil rights advocates who had been pressing for a review for a long time. “A range of people and organizations have been asking for this for years,” said Sonia Kumar, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, “but really, I think those calls became louder and more forceful in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray.”
Civil rights investigations often end with court settlements and independent oversight of police departments. They can be powerful agents of change, but they are not immediate, and the Baltimore investigation could take a year or more. A similar investigation into the Police Department in Ferguson, Mo., took seven months, an extraordinarily fast timeline for such cases.
Mr. Batts and the mayor had already asked the Justice Department’s community-policing experts to conduct a voluntary review of the department. The preliminary results of that review will most likely be released in the coming weeks and are expected to recommend changes to training and use-of-force policies. Those recommendations would not be binding, but Mr. Batts said he planned to work with the community-policing experts to make changes to the department regardless of what civil rights investigators did.
A version of this article appears in print on May 8, 2015, on page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: Justice Dept. Will Examine Baltimore’s Police Patterns. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe