The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

ACLU of Florida Responds to DOJ Findings of Miami Police's Excessive Use of Force

Federal investigation began in 2011 following series of fatal police shootings killing 7 black suspects over 8-month period


Today, the United States Department of Justice released the findings of an investigation into the City of Miami Police Department concluding that the department has engaged in a pattern of excessive use of force, including the use of deadly force, in a series of fatal police shootings.

The following statement may be attributed to Howard Simon, Executive Director, ACLU of Florida:

The findings of the investigation mean that the weight of the United States government now backs the allegations that groups like the ACLU have been saying about the Miami Police Department. We are not surprised that the Department of Justice found that there is a pattern of excessive use of force. But as significant as these findings are, ultimately, someone needs to be held responsible for the deaths and the violation of constitutional rights.

We need to recognize the limited role of this investigation: it was a civil investigation, not criminal; it investigated the pattern and practices of the Police Department, not the conduct of any named police officers. People's rights have been violated and lives have been unjustly taken. Now that the groundwork has been laid by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, we expect a follow-up investigation into the conduct of Miami Police Department officers who were responsible. Finding out whether there are officers who can be held responsible is necessary if the people's trust in the police who are sworn to protect them is going to be restored.

The following statement may be attributed to Jeanne Baker, Chair of the Police Practices Committee of the Greater Miami Chapter of the ACLU of Florida:

The findings of this investigation are a crucial step in restoring the community's trust in its police department, but it is far from the final step. Credit goes to Mayor Tomas Regalado who, along with Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and other community groups like the ACLU, called for an investigation into his own city's police department. The Justice Department was able to arrive at conclusions that the city's internal mechanisms - including the Civilian Investigative Panel - have proven inadequate to find: that the City of Miami Police Department has been violating the Constitutional rights of its citizens. The U.S. Department of Justice did what our own Civilian Investigative Panel could have and should have done - investigate the policies and practices of the police department that led to the fatal shootings of Miami citizens.

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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