Are We Having the Wrong Conversation: The Truth About Police Brutality in America (Part II)

In the initial part of this two-part series, I discussed how no American, regardless of race or ethnicity, is exempt from being attacked and assaulted by law enforcement. This subsequently posting will focus on the failure to prosecute officers who brutalize citizens.  This post will show that police brutality, and the subsequent lack of justice for victims, is simply not a black and white ferguson4issue, meaning pivoting upon the issue of race. Rather it reflects a bigger systemic issue of the egregious conflict of interest that occurs in police forces and district attorney’s offices that consistently deprives victims of police shootings any semblance of justice.

This point is illustrated by the following facts:

  • The New York Daily News conducted a study which showed that of 179 civilians of various nationalities were killed by NYPD between the years of 1999 and 2014. Only 3 officers were indicted, there was 1 conviction, and no officers did prison time.
  • A Houston Chronicle investigative report found that in Houston, Texas 52 civilians from multiple nationalities were killed between the years of 2008 and 2012. None of the officers were charged.
  • The same investigative report found that in Dallas, Texas, just one police officer was indicted from 2008 to 2012, after grand juries reviewed 81 shooting cases with ethnically diverse victims which involved 175 police officers.

Many people wonder how these so-called “peace officers” elude facing charges for killing civilians in cold blood. The answer is quite simple. The relationship between DA 1district attorney’s and the police department allows these officers to evade facing prosecution.  The job of a prosecutor is to bring criminal charges against a defendant or strongly encourage a grand jury to do so. But as the above evidence shows, when potential defendants are police officers, the incestuous relationship between the police and prosecutors rears its ugly head.  The police and prosecutors work closely as criminal cases make their way through the criminal justice system. Officers are often subpoenaed by district attorney’s to testify at trials and need officers to investigate DAcrimes in an in-depth methodical manner in order to ensure a conviction of a defendant. So can we realistically expect officers to be charged when the person who makes that decision is their colleague? Quite simply, no we cannot.

I propose the following changes:

  • Anytime a civilian is killed by a law enforcement officer, there should be a Special Prosecutor appointed that has  no prior  connection to that police department  involved to ensure a fair and just presentation of evidence.
  • Anyone citizen that sits member on a grand jury should have no connection whatsoever to law enforcement.
  • There should be an unbiased investigator assigned to the case to complete an internal review on behalf of the police department.
  • When a civilian is shot or assaulted, the officer or officers responsible should immediately be assigned to desk duty and be stripped of their gun, until the conclusion of an independent investigation.

The collusion that exists between district attorney’s and the police denies a vast majority of victims of police brutality justice, regardless of the race of the victim. This must end. Police officers who fail to protect citizens should be held responsible for their actions regardless of their previous relationship with a prosecutor. The current protocol and system in place that shields officers from being called to the carpet for their abuse of power must be abolished. If not, how will the public trust that the police and the district attorneys are actually working to protect citizens and not acting with their own self-interest in mind.

Alexander Goodwin


© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2014