New Study Shows Even If Cops Commit a Crime on Video, 96% of the Time they Aren’t Prosecuted

fcstudy
Claire Bernish | The Free Thought Project

Police in the United States managed to escape prosecution when facing allegations they violated civil rights an incredible 96 percent of the time. This is almost the exact opposite of the conviction rate for everyone else, as normal citizens are are prosecuted at a rate of 93 percent.

investigation by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (the Trib), based on an analysis of nearly 3 million federal records, found that from 1995 through 2015, federal prosecutors overwhelmingly opted not to pursue prosecution. Indeed, the 96 percent refusal to press charges sharply contrasts with the rejection rate for all other complaints — just 23 percent.




Investigators found the most common reasons given for refusing to prosecute officers were “weak or insufficient evidence, lack of criminal intent required under a 1945 Supreme Court ruling standard, and orders from the Justice Department.”

In response to the Trib’s study, Justice Dept. spokeswoman Dena Iverson said the DOJ takes “any allegation of law enforcement misconduct seriously and will review those allegations when they are brought to our attention.”


But the lopsided tendency for U.S. prosecutors to reject charging officers in civil rights cases could easily be seen as validation for outrage at what amounts to police impunity.

“It’s a difficult situation for the legal system in general,” Mel Johnson, assistant U.S. attorney for civil rights cases in Wisconsin’s Eastern District, told the Trib. “Federal and state governments have not succeeded in deterring police misconduct. I would say the legal system has a way to go.”

Prosecuting civil rights allegations is a tricky matter, in general, but the challenge to prove an officer acted “willfully,” which the Supreme Court ruled over 70 years ago, remains the greatest stumbling block.





“The standard is high and challenging,” said Alan Vinegrad, a former federal prosecutor in New York who oversaw civil rights cases. “It’s got to be a willful deprivation of rights, meaning the police officer intended and wanted to either kill or injure the person. Not just ‘it was reckless or negligent’ or anything like that.”

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 3206 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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  • Patrick H.

    I think we mis-use words. When did police stop being citizens that are accountable for their actions. Its talked like police are military and that we are civilians. Think that police may have started out as a vulunteer group of good people standing up to crimminals in time of need. If you saw the bank being robbed you ring the bell to alert the towns people somethings up. All who hear the bell grab their rifles and take action. Then it became a profession where a city hires citizens to be on call. Citizen who by the way have a Right to bear arms. Now its like those people have become exempt from the laws that they are there to enforce. It like they have become Gods or Nobel men. And realy we’ re all just people, citizens.

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