SEATTLE (AP) -- The U.S. Justice Department says Seattle police have engaged in excessive force that violates federal law and the Constitution.
An investigation was launched last spring following the fatal shooting of a homeless, Native American woodcarver and other incidents of force used against minority suspects.
The investigation was aimed at determining whether Seattle police have a pattern or practice of violating civil rights or discriminatory policing, and if so, what they should do to improve.
The assistant attorney general for the DOJ's civil rights division, Thomas E. Perez, joined Seattle U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan for the announcement Friday morning.
Our investigation finds a pattern or practice of constitutional violations regarding the use of force that result from structural problems, as well as serious concerns about biased policing, Durkan wrote. Resolution of our findings will require a written, court-enforceable agreement that sets forth remedial measures to be taken within a fixed period of time. A disciplined remedial structure will provide all interested parties with the greatest assurance that violations of constitutional rights are corrected and will not reoccur.
The report did not condemn the actions of the majority of the force.
The great majority of the City s police officers are honorable law enforcement professionals who risk their physical safety and well-being for the public good, she wrote, However, a pattern of excessive force exists as a result of a subset of officers who use force improperly, and is caused by a number of systemic deficiencies that exist in spite of SPD s recent reform efforts.
Among the findings
- Seattle Police officers engaged in a pattern of unnecessary or excessive use of force.
- When Seattle Police officers use force, they do so in an unconstitutional manner nearly 20 percent of the time.
- Seattle Police officers too quickly resort to the use of impact weapons, such as batons and flashlights.
- When officers use batons, 57 percent of the time, it s either unnecessary or excessive.
- Seattle Police officers escalate situations when arresting individuals for minor offenses such as mental illness or individuals under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- There are deficiencies in oversight, policies and training.