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US police escape civil rights charges in 96 percent of cases submitted to federal prosecutors: report

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Federal prosecutors declined to bring charges against law enforcement officers in the United States facing allegations of civil rights violations in 96 percent of such cases between 1995 and 2015, according to an investigation by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper.

The newspaper examined nearly 3 million U.S. Justice Department records related to how the department’s 94 U.S. attorney’s offices across the country, and in U.S. territories including Puerto Rico, handled civil rights cases against officers.

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The data included cases referred to the Justice Department by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies, as well as investigations that prosecutors opened on their own.

Overall, prosecutors turned down 12,703 potential civil rights violations out of 13,233 total complaints. By contrast, prosecutors rejected only about 23 percent of referrals in all other types of criminal cases, the newspaper said.

The findings could bolster arguments by activists, such as those involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, who claim police officers are rarely held criminally responsible for their misconduct.

The report comes just days after the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, announced he would not press charges against a white officer who killed an unarmed black teenager inside his own apartment in 2012.

The most common reasons that prosecutors cited for declining to bring civil rights cases against officers were weak or insufficient evidence, lack of criminal intent and orders from the Justice Department, according to the Tribune-Review.

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The standard for bringing a federal civil rights case is much more stringent than that of a typical police misconduct case brought at the state level. Federal prosecutors must prove that an officer acted “willfully” in depriving someone of his or her rights, rather than simply negligently or recklessly.

“Maybe they’re not taking the cases because they’re not good cases,” Jim Pasco, the executive director of the national Fraternal Order of Police, told the newspaper in response to its findings.

A Justice Department spokeswoman, Dena Iverson, told the Tribune-Review that the agency takes “any allegation of law enforcement misconduct seriously and will review those allegations when they are brought to our attention.”

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The U.S. attorney’s office in Northern Mississippi, based in Oxford, brought 24 civil rights cases against officers, the most of any federal prosecutor’s office. The cases resulted in 20 convictions.

Prosecutors in Western Tennessee, based in Memphis, filed 22 cases, the second-highest number, winning 20.

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Eleven districts in the United States saw no civil rights prosecutions brought against any officers out of 240 referrals, the newspaper said.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Frank McGurty and Susan Fenton)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Bolton’s firsthand evidence puts senators in the difficult position of believing ‘bizarro’ Trump team argument: Legal experts

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Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal and Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe agreed that the recent revelations from John Bolton, puts Republicans in a difficult position. Bolton's manuscript confirmed that President Donald Trump's bribery scheme puts senators in the difficult position of being faced with firsthand witnesses they've tried to block.

Republicans were given multiple opportunities to agree that they would like to hear witnesses and new evidence as part of the impeachment trial in the Senate, but each time, they voted against it. But with the news Bolton released Sunday night, it forces senators to acknowledge they deny even firsthand evidence of Trump's guilt.

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Democratic senator says she gets more ‘disheartened’ every day hearing GOP deny evidence and witnesses

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Day after day, Republicans senators find new excuses to dismiss the evidence they hear that in any courtroom would convict an ordinary American citizen. It was enough to make normally happy Sen. Debbie Stabenow (R-MI) feel "disheartened" by the whole process.

"As somebody from Michigan, we believe in commonsense, and you can't look at all this and say, 'is this how somebody would act if they were innocent?'" said Stabenow. "And you can't look at this and say, 'Is this how somebody would act if they were innocent?' All of this coming out over and over again. I'll never forget Adam Schiff on the floor saying to all of us, 'Nobody's saying, well, gosh, Donald Trump would never do that.' The truth is it's all about will he get away with it? It's all about, are they going to be successful in hiding it and so on?"

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Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera attacks former White House press secretary on Twitter as ‘old douche’

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In a bizarre moment, Sunday evening politics turned into a war of wards in President Donald Trump's Twitter comments.

Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera responded to former press secretary Joe Lockhart, who had replied to one of the tweets Trump retweeted from Rivera.

"Gloom settling on Democrats as they realize they’ve taken their best kill shot & missed. Dems in despair. Republicans United. @realDonaldTrump survives & #Impeachment all over but the shouting," said Rivera, hopefully not literally saying that Democrats wanted to shoot or kill the president.

Lockhart responded to the comment by mocking the Fox News host, saying that he was only making the comment to help get his contract renewed.

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