The High Cost of Police Brutality

On May Day 2007, immigrants across the country exercised their right to free speech and free assembly by participating in protest marches. In Los Angeles, the marchers encountered an aggressive response by LAPD officers who claimed their use of force was precipitated by marchers who "threw plastic bottles and other small objects in the direction of police." The 300 or so people who were beaten with batons or shot with rubber bullets, including a number of journalists, didn't see it that way.

Neither did the LA City Council, which voted unanimously to settle police brutality claims arising out the protest march for $13 million.

The City Council has agreed to pay more than $32 million in the past two weeks to settle lawsuits related to LAPD misconduct and brutality claims.

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    Unfortunately (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by squeaky on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 10:11:43 PM EST
    The people that are responsible have almost zero liability, therefore zero incentive to restrain their sadistic impulses.

    Tasers are a big problem. Because they do not leave marks like a baton would they require no strength to apply tasers are the prefered method to satisfy both the needs of the sadistic impulses of the police and the rule of law.

    They can now get away with multiple tasings, so the memory of beating someone with a baton is easily replaced with the torture of repeated 50,000 volt shocks 15 feet away, even when passed out. Oh, and there are no marks, except permanently damaging of the victims mind.

    diogenes, (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by cpinva on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 12:02:11 AM EST
    my guess is, the 13m was cheap, by comparison to what it would have cost them, had they been stupid enough to take every one of these cases to trial. and i don't mean just the cost of defending these nimrods, i mean the cost, when a jury handed down multiple, multi-million dollar awards.

    if they really, really, really thought these bozos, masquerading as police, were in the right, they'd have fought it tooth and nail, as they do on the vast majority of them.

    methinks there was sufficient video evidence, that convinced the city council it was by far cheaper to pay out 13m, rather then risk bankrupting LA County.

    if a police officer is convicted of violating someone's civil rights, they are nearly always, by definition, guilty of a criminal act as well. especially when the violation results from physical contact. it's called assault with a deadly weapon, possibly with intent to maim or kill.

    trial lawyers (none / 0) (#13)
    by diogenes on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 07:46:57 PM EST
    Whose fault is it that juries hand down "multiple million dollar awards" in cases like this.  
    And if the police are really guilty of crimes and are on videotape, then why not charge them and have trials instead of civil suits?

    The two are not inconsistent (none / 0) (#15)
    by TChris on Sat Feb 07, 2009 at 02:15:37 PM EST
    and they serve different purposes.  Criminal prosecutions are brought on behalf of society as a whole for the purpose of protecting society and punishing on its behalf.  Civil suits are brought by individual victims to recover the money necessary to compensate them for their injuries.  

    nuisance suits (none / 0) (#2)
    by diogenes on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 10:29:06 PM EST
    So these 300 people each were damaged by an average of 14,250 dollars in the immigration protests?  Maybe the high cost is in a LA City Council that caves in instead of taking it to trial in front of a judge and appealing it, although that whole process probably would have cost more than thirteen million dollars.  Lawsuits of this magnitude get settled all the time because it costs more to fight them than to settle.
    It would be much better to let the cases go to trial so that the real victims get full value and the others get nothing.

    I have a problem with police brutality (none / 0) (#3)
    by thereyougo on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 10:38:16 PM EST
    but, who were the protesters?  Were they legal immigrants?

    If they are illegals,they should be deported.The tax payer is overburdened enough so that who in the one that gets punished?

    The taxpayer that has to pay for incarceration or the the settlement of a lawsuit from supposed US citizens.

    If someone can point to me the fairness of that, I am willing to hear it and change my view. Until then, I have to complain and the illegals here get no sympathy from me the burdened Calif taxpayer.

    Other countries who have this problem (Europe), process them differently and nip the problem. I don't understand why it can't be the same here.


    Whether or not (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by TChris on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 10:43:03 PM EST
    they have appropriate documentation to be in the country (and I doubt that's an issue for the journalist victims), they should not be beaten or physically abused by police officers.  The constitutional right to be free from excessive force applies to everyone in the country, regardless of how or why they are here.

    Seven LAPD officers also suffered minor injuries caused by demonstrators throwing objects. One motor officer was pushed off his [motorcycle] after reportedly entering the parade line which seems to be the initial cause of the clash between demonstrators and the police.

    I'm not sure I understand your question. (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by TChris on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 12:43:13 PM EST
    If the question is "Does the constitutional right to be free from excessive force protect police officers from force exerted by private individuals?," the answer is no.  The Constitution protects us from the government; it does not protect the government from us.

    If the question is "Should demonstrators injure police officers by throwing objects at them or by pushing them off their motorcycles?," the answer is obviously no.  It is, in fact, a crime to intentionally injure a law enforcement officer.  But it isn't a constitutional violation unless the person inflicting the injury is acting on the government's behalf.


    OK, that makes sense. (none / 0) (#10)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 12:48:52 PM EST
    Makes no sense at all (none / 0) (#12)
    by diogenes on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 07:45:03 PM EST
    The injured policemen should be able to sue the perpetrators of their injuries by this reasoning.

    Of course they can. (none / 0) (#14)
    by TChris on Sat Feb 07, 2009 at 02:12:36 PM EST
    And they frequently do, if the perpetrators have money.

    Furthermore (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by jar137 on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 11:50:50 PM EST
    there are policy concerns at play.  If illegals fear being deported for reporting police brutality they will constantly be at the mercy of violent officers.  We as a society should not tolerate such barbarity.  

    I got just as many beefs... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 08:13:26 AM EST
    as the next guy about how my tax dollars are spent...to compensate victims of brutality at the hands of our employees is not one of those instances...it is least we can do to maintain some semblance of a civilized free society.  Regardless of where the victims were born or what their papers say.

    I just wish our police departments were held accountable when they cost us millions in settlements for their droog-ery...but they never seem to be.


    One quesiton (none / 0) (#11)
    by mexboy on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 02:44:29 PM EST

    I am Mexican-American. Should I bring my passport next time I go to any protest, to prove I am a US citizen, so I won't get beaten by the cops?

    Or should I only bring it when I protest against anything dealing with  Latino or immigration issues?

    Thanks for your reply.