IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 21, 2009
Contact: Chris Fleming (202) 463-2940 ext.1021
NAACP ASKS DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TO INVESTIGATE
POLICE DEPARTMENT of drunken cop mocking murder victim’s mom
History of Discrimination, Lack of Diversity and Suspicious Activities
Warrant Thorough Pattern and Practices Investigation
WASHINGTON, DC—The NAACP announced today, that a letter was sent to Attorney General Holder asking the Department of Justice to conduct a thorough investigation into the pattern and practices of the Erie Police Department in Erie, Pennsylvania.
The letter was sent in response to a video tape of an officer mocking a murder victim, mimicking the mother’s reaction to his death and apparently bragging of tasing a subdued suspect. The Erie chief of police initially did not suspend the officer and apparently authorized attempts to intimidate the man who shot the video
In the video, posted on YouTube, Patrolman James Cousins II of the Erie Police Department brags to his friends about his actions as a Police Officer. In the video Cousins says, “We're looking at it like, “One less drug dealer to deal with,”" the Erie, PA, police officer says. "Cool." The murder victim, described as a loving father, had no history of drug violations, according to news reports.
“The residents of Erie Pennsylvania and the entire U.S. deserve to have a police force that protects them and is respectful in the process. The time is long overdue for states to be smart on crime, to screen, train and evaluate officers on a regular basis and maintain the integrity of our law enforcement agencies. The disturbing actions of Patrolman James Cousins II and the Chief Of Police’s failure to respond appropriately to the misconduct could be part of a systemic problem with the Erie Police Department.,” stated Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP President and CEO.
Under the pattern and practices division of the Department of Justice, the agency would conduct in-depth interviews with the police command staff to evaluate the education and training programs and review written policies and practices, as well as any systems for reporting officer actions of alleged misconduct. Additionally, the Department of Justice would review the Erie Police Department’s systems for monitoring and supervising officers and analyze the agency's formal procedures and actual practices for receiving, investigating, and adjudicating citizen complaints
“Since 1973 there have been cases and complaints against the Erie Police Department ranging from discrimination against African-American officers to discrimination in hiring practices of women. This incident raises a myriad of questions about hiring practices, review processes, investigative procedures and screening processes” added Jealous. “The NAACP wholeheartedly believes that a majority of the Erie Police are hard working, courageous and dedicated officers. Our request to the Department of Justice is based on our abiding commitment to assuring that police departments incorporate the types of best practices in law enforcement that foster trust with the communities they serve and protect, avoid police misconduct and abuse and maximize their ability to prevent and solve crime.”
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil and human rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.