FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Community demands independent Police Accountability Board with disciplinary power
Who: Enough Is Enough, supporting organizations, and the community with Jessenia Edgeston, Scean Gordon, Pastor Wanda Wilson, and Barbara Lacker-Ware speaking to the media.
What: Jessenia Edgeston and Scean Gordon will share their experiences with police misconduct. In response to these and many similar incidents, Enough is Enough, supporting organizations, and members of the community call for a new Police Accountability Board with powers to investigate, adjudicate, and discipline Rochester police officers for misconduct, especially related to excessive use of force. The power of an independent body to impose discipline on police officers is essential for true police accountability. Despite misconceptions to the contrary, nothing in state law would prevent the proposed Police Accountability Board from disciplining officers.
When: Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, 11:00 a.m.
Where: Downtown United Presbyterian Church, 121 Fitzhugh St. N., Rochester, NY 14614
-In 2010, Robinn Turner, while reporting a crime, was picked up, slammed to the ground, and kneed in the back by a Rochester Police Department (RPD) officer;
-In 2011, Cardell Libbett ran from police and, while lying face down on the ground, was punched, kicked, and tased by six RPD officers;
-In 2013, Benny Warr, while waiting for a bus, was dumped out of his wheelchair, kicked and beaten by RPD officers;
-In 2013, Dwayne Ivery was beaten unconscious by an RPD officer after asking the officer to accompany him to his estranged girlfriend’s house to collect his belongings;
-In 2014, Quintin Keene was beaten by an RPD officer while talking on his phone in a laundromat; the officer claimed to be looking for a man with a gun who bore no resemblance to Keene;
-In 2015, Rasheed Griner, enjoying music at the beach, was beaten by an RPD officer;
-In 2015, Scean Gordon was pepper-sprayed and beaten by RPD officers after video-recording the arrest of his friend who was misidentified by the officers;
-In 2016, Silvon Simmons was shot 3 times by an RPD officer who misidentified him as a suspect in an unrelated crime based merely on his race and the make/model of his car;
-In 2016, Lentorya Parker was slammed to the ground by an RPD officer after he asked her to go back into her yard and she turned to do so;
-In 2016, Rickey Bryant was beaten by several RPD officers after being mistaken for a man with a gun who bore no resemblance to him.
All of these survivors of police brutality were unarmed. All are Black. Their lives were devalued and their bodies damaged. No officer was terminated as a result of a civilian allegations of excessive use of force from 2002-16, according to Professional Standards Section annual reports. These cases, and many others like them, are examples of why we need real accountability, transparency, and justice when dealing with police misconduct. Enough is Enough, supporting organizations, and members of the community call for a new Police Accountability Board with powers to investigate, adjudicate, and discipline Rochester police officers for misconduct, especially related to excessive use of force.
In response to our call, City Council contracted with the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) to research the issue, and their report was presented to City Council in November, 2017. Members of Enough is Enough have reviewed the report and have identified concerns that warrant a response.
We are proposing a Police Accountability Board with five essential powers:
1. Independent investigative authority as an agency of city government independent from the RPD;
2. Subpoena power to compel the production of evidence and witnesses;
3. The authority to conduct misconduct hearings;
4. Disciplinary authority; and
5. The power to evaluate systemic patterns, practices, policies, and procedures of the RPD to recommend changes and prevent misconduct .
We are hopeful that City Council will establish a PAB with all of the powers enumerated above, because justice requires accountability, and accountability requires independence.
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