Mar 20, 1991
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The committee heard testimony on police brutality and the Bush Administration’s actions to eliminate the excessive use of force by police authorities. The hearings were held in part because of a March 3, 1991 incident .. Read More
The committee heard testimony on police brutality and the Bush Administration’s actions to eliminate the excessive use of force by police authorities. The hearings were held in part because of a March 3, 1991 incident in Los Angeles, CA, in which a suspect who had been pulled over in his car for speeding was savagely beaten by four members of the Los Angeles Police Department while other members of the force looked on. The speeding suspect was black, the officers involved in the beating were white and the entire incident was recorded on videotape by a local resident. The videotape received wide air play on national television news. The head of the Los Angeles Police Department refused to resign his position despite charges that racism and use of excessive force are condoned by the authorities in the Los Angeles Police Department. On March 15, 1991, the Justice Department announced it would conduct an investigation into every case of police brutality reported to the Justice Department in the past six years. Crimes committed by police authorities may fall under the jurisdiction of federal authorities. Mr. Dunne said crimes committed by policemen in the line of duty should properly be addressed and prosecuted by local or state prosecutors. The Justice Department’s program of investigations into police brutality serve, he said, as a “backstop” to local authorities. Mr. Baker discussed the FBI’s civil rights investigations, which include police brutality. Mr. Fyfe discussed the Los Angeles Police Department, which he said was unique among police departments for its military organization. Its military organization results in a lack of accountability of police department officials, since the head of the department is accountable to no one. Mr. Hoffman continued to describe the police brutality in Los Angeles and spoke on the limitations in the Justice Dept.'s ability to investigate police brutality.