Attorney general Eric Holder announced today that a federal investigation of nearly 600 incidents involving Cleveland officers indicates that the city's police department systematically uses excessive force. The investigation was opened in March 2013, well predating the recent killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland officer Tim Loehmann. From Cleveland.com:
The investigation by six Justice Department lawyers, plus several independent policing experts, found that systemic deficiencies and practices haunt the city's police department. The problems include insufficient accountability, inadequate training, ineffective policies, and inadequate engagement with the community, according to a 58-page letter given to Jackson...
The investigation was prompted by the 2012 deaths of two unarmed suspects who were killed in "a hail of 137 bullets" after a chase. A number of officers were punished for their actions during the incident:
Officer Michael Brelo, who fired 49 rounds, is awaiting trial on voluntary manslaughter charges for the fatal shootings of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Five supervisors were charged with dereliction of duty for their roles in the chase that involved 62 police cruisers and 100 officers. More than 70 officers and supervisors were disciplined for their roles in the chase.
Justice officials will now hold meetings with police, public figures, and residents in order to put together a "consent decree" set of reform guidelines that will be overseen by a court-appointed monitor. Holder's department has enacted nine other such decrees during his tenure, which has been marked by aggressive action on racially tinged civil rights and policing issues.