New DC police ‘use-of-force’ report says ‘weaknesses’ in department have ‘gotten worse’

A new D.C. Auditor report reviewing four deadly use-of-force investigations from 2018 to 2019 outlines serious issues in the handling of the investigations, indicating previous findings may have been flawed.

The report was released on Tuesday, reviewing Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) internal investigations into the deaths of Jeffrey Price, Jr., D’Quan Young, Marqueese Alston, and Eric Carter.

Price, 22, died in 2018 after the illegal dirt bike was riding, collided with a D.C. police vehicle near Division Ave. NE and Fitch PL NE.

Jay Brown, Price’s uncle, believes the D.C. Auditor report released on Tuesday supports his family’s claim that the officer involved in his nephew’s death, identified as Officer Michael Pearson, used his police vehicle to intentionally block Price.

After the report’s release, Brown said this to FOX 5:

 

“This investigation, it proves that they tried to attempt to cover the death, the murder, the homicide of my nephew, when [Officer] Michael Pearson blew through this stop sign right here and entered this intersection right here and block my nephew off while other officers were in pursuit of my nephew. It was not a justified pursuit,” added Brown, “It was not an authorized pursuit and MPD went and jumped through hoops to cover it up by not properly investigating it.”

The report notes how the officer-involved “rolled into the intersection without completely stopping at the stop sign located at the intersection of Fitch and Division” in Northeast D.C.

The authors of the report said they found “significant shortcomings” in Price’s investigation. Not adequately questioning the officers involved or exploring the “blocking” allegation, were noted in the report, along with confusion on D.C.’s police pursuit policy.

The D.C. Auditor noted that in the 2016 report, compiled by The Bromwich Group, it indicated that D.C. police policies continued to “be consistent with best practices in police” – but it also found “deficiencies in use-of-force investigations” – and found those deficiencies had grown significantly worse over the past 5-6 years.

D.C. Auditor Kathleen Patterson told FOX 5 part of the reason has to do with a Force Investigation Team being disbanded under former D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

 

“The initial issues of criminal charges, that’s a determination made by the U.S. Attorney’s office, based on the use of force at the moment when a bullet was fired. We don’t dispute that determination by the U.S. Attorney’s office but virtually everything else about the investigations is problematic: interviews aren’t long enough, the investigation’s not comprehensive. Investigators are not trained,” said Patterson, who called this report an opportunity for MPD to do a  “much better job” investigating and training members on deadly force incidents so there are fewer incidents taking place in the future.

 

D.C. Police Union Chair called the report, a “political swipe” at their members. Gregg Pemberton wrote in part of a statement:

Mr. Bromwich seems to be engaging in an effort to discredit the decisions of the officers by hypercritically challenging minor aspects of the respective investigations. This speculative report with its overly broad observations that can only come with hindsight, is just another political swipe at the professional and responsible job our members engage in every day.

 

 

In addition to the deficiencies noted, the report also suggests that the department appears to have been resistant or “unconcerned with remedying them.”The report’s recommendations include:

  • Comprehensive investigation and analysis of the use of force incidents including actions by all officers leading up to the use of force and any and all opportunities for de-escalation
  • Enhanced training for investigators who handle serious use of force cases
  • Requiring the Use of Force Review Board (UFRB) to provide specific recommendations on training, policy, and best practices

Catherine Young, D’Quan Young’s mother, told FOX 5 this report was the first time she was ever shown details and able to read officer interviews in the case of her son’s death. Investigators say Young died in 2018 after exchanging gunfire with an off-duty police officer. The D.C. auditor report mentioned the following in Young’s case:

“But there is no evidence that Officer Wilson tried at any point to de-escalate his encounter with Mr. Young. Our review of the evidence showed that Officer Wilson failed to take advantage of numerous opportunities to do so, beginning with the initial verbal exchange and extending through to his following Mr. Young up on the sidewalk after their faceoff in the street. Officer Wilson did not identify himself as a police officer. He did not call for backup. He did not call 911.”

In 2018, investigators said Marqueese Alston, being chased by officers, exchanged fire with police and died from his wounds. The D.C. auditor report questions the pursuit policy here and also adds, “In addition, we saw no evidence that any officer actually checked Mr. Alston’s vital signs or otherwise attempted to render first aid, as required by MPD policy

 

Source: FOX 5 DC

 

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