Police shooting of black California woman gets new probe
Justice Department examining Riverside police practices
Web posted at: 8:27 a.m. EDT (1227 GMT)
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- The shooting death of a black California woman in her car has led to a new investigation of the Riverside Police Department. This time, it's a Justice Department review of the department's conduct in dealing with minorities.
The new probe is in addition to a federal civil rights investigation into last year's shooting by police of Tyisha Miller.
"We are concerned about allegations that some police officers in Riverside have used excessive force and have engaged in racially discriminatory law enforcement practices," Bill Lann Lee, acting assistant U.S. attorney general, said Thursday.
The Justice Department said it will try to determine whether Riverside police have "engaged in a pattern or practice of law enforcement misconduct" in the way they provide services. That includes determining if racial slurs have been used.
U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas said the new investigation is "not an indictment of the department. It is a reasoned response to concerns that have been raised." Lee said the Riverside department has pledged to cooperate fully.
Riverside Police Chief Jerry Carroll said he believes the review will confirm the department "neither practices nor condones unprofessional behavior or racial discrimination in any form."
The Justice Department is now investigating 10 police departments nationwide, including those in New York City and New Orleans.
Lee said that during the Los Angeles investigation into the police beating of Rodney King, which was videotaped and drew international outrage in 1991, the Justice Department could only bring criminal charges against the officers involved, but had no power to reform management practices. That has changed.
Now, Lee said, the department has authority to "eliminate patterns and practices of conduct of law enforcement officers that violate civil rights." It is that authority that will be used in the Riverside investigation.
Officials would not discuss specific complaints that led to the new Riverside police probe, but said they involved incidents in the city 60 miles east of Los Angeles before and after the December 28 shooting of Miller, 19.
Police found her apparently unconscious in a locked car parked at a gas station. Four white officers fired 23 bullets at her, hitting her 12 times, when she suddenly reached for a gun after an officer broke into her car to remove the weapon, police said.
The Riverside County district attorney criticized the officers' tactics but decided there was no criminal intent. That decision has prompted repeated demonstrations in Riverside.
The officers involved have been notified that the police chief intends to fire them. Their lawyer claims they are being made scapegoats.
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Civil rights suit in California police shooting
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.