The United States Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has filed a record number of criminal police-misconduct cases and aggressively uses civil laws to force reform at police departments across the country. Following a 3-year federal investigation, the Newark, New Jersey P.D. was mandated by the Department of Justice to overhaul its behavior due to “a pattern of unconstitutional policing, which includes stop-and-frisk tactics and the use of excessive force.”

On July 30, 2014, a Federal Grand Jury in Philadelphia indicted 6 former members of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Narcotics Unit, and charged them with robbery, kidnapping and other tactics to shake down money, property and drugs from suspected drug dealers. The Grand Jury returned a 26 count indictment and accused the cops of “engaging in a racketeering conspiracy that included multiple acts of robbery, extortion, kidnapping, and drug-dealing,” according to the United States Attorney in Philadelphia. Some of the 22 specific incidents alleged in the indictment include officers punching, kicking, or striking suspects with steel pipes, as well as threatening to shoot them or dangling them from balconies. The case is now pending trial in Philadelphia.

The death of a New York City man in July, 2014, is headed to the Grand Jury. The 43-year old deceased, a father of 6 children, died during an arrest in Staten Island for allegedly selling loose untaxed cigarettes. The medical examiner has ruled the death a homicide. The death was caused by compression of the neck and chest while the deceased was in a prone position being restrained by police. One officer also allegedly put his arm around the deceased’s neck and choked him. Both New York City Police Department officers involved in the incident have been taken off the street and put on desk duty. Four E.M.T. workers involved in the medical response have also been suspended, without pay, pending an investigation. The emergency workers allegedly failed to provide CPR in a timely manner.

If you think your civil rights have been violated during an arrest, give my office a call to discuss your case.