The UN Human Rights Panel recently questioned the U.S. regarding the recent rash of police brutality cases and citizen deaths that have affected countless U.S. cities in recent months and years. While police brutality has received serious coverage in the news only recently, the problem has been ongoing. According to Reuters, the U.S. was issued recommendations for handling the issue by the UN in 2010, but has, as of yet, followed through on these recommendations. The recommendations urged the U.S. to address issues of police brutality but also to address the current racial disparities in individuals facing the death penalty in the U.S.
As a result of this systemic oversight, countless individuals face police brutality every year. According to the Washington Post, in recent years, police departments have increasingly resorted to using military tactics. To make matters worse, police are seldom held accountable in court for their actions. Prosecutors favor police testimony, often creating a serious double standard for victims of police brutality. For individuals who have suffered from police brutality, finding a skilled criminal defense lawyer who can build a strong case is essential in order to fight these kinds of violent arrests in court.
Yet, according to the Washington Post, the criminal justice system’s permissive attitude toward police violence is unsupported by actual statistics. Police work doesn’t even reach the top ten list for top dangerous jobs in the U.S. While police should be protected, permissive laws that allow for police brutality to continue unchecked has garnered serious criticism on the local and international level. One former St. Louis Police officer explained that police know and understand that there is a separate justice system in place for civilians and police officers. While many officers don’t take advantage of this, sadly, a small minority do.
The UN has called upon the U.S. to fix the broken justice system and to work with minority communities to prevent racial discrimination and profiling. The U.S. has come under fire with the international community for its failure to live up to the promise of its civil rights laws. The UN cited the tragic deaths of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Walter Scott.
Unfortunately, these high-profile cases are hardly isolated incidents of police brutality. According to the Associated Press, 400 law enforcement officers have been criminally charged for police brutality in the past six years alone. About 1,000 civilians are killed each year in the U.S. by police officers.
The Washington Post wrote recently about how the U.S. is suffering from a situation of broken trust between police and citizens. As a result, police may be more prone to use more militaristic tactics, and individuals will be more likely to mistrust the police.
The New York Times wrote that in Baltimore, for instance, running from the police is considered a normal practice for young men who live in heavily-policed neighborhoods. Some individuals explained that the rules of the street include an unspoken tip to surrender in public places to decrease the risk of being beaten or assaulted. Disturbingly, men report that even innocent individuals will run from police out of the fear of evidence being planted against them, or charges being filed that they are in no financial position to fight.
In some cases, individuals face excessive police brutality for small crimes, like marijuana use or possession.
The dialogue about police brutality continues in the U.S., spurring protests across the country. The international outcry is also putting pressure on lawmakers to find a solution. However, until the justice system evolves to create harsher penalties and oversight for the excessive use of police force, individuals are likely to continue to suffer from police brutality in New York and in other cities across the country. For individuals facing this kind of violence, the best course of action is to find a criminal defense law firm like Goldberg & Allen LLP who specializes in handling cases of police brutality cases.