5 Points On The Most Shocking Incidents From The DOJ Ferguson Report

Protestor Boss Bastain of St. Louis locks arms with others as they confront Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers in front of the Ferguson police station on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. Marchers are entering a third day ... Protestor Boss Bastain of St. Louis locks arms with others as they confront Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers in front of the Ferguson police station on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. Marchers are entering a third day of protests against Sunday's police shooting of Michael Brown. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen) MORE LESS
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The Department of Justice issued a report on Wednesday detailing what it alleged was the Ferguson Police Department’s pattern of racial bias and violations of people’s Constitutional rights.

Shortly after the release, Attorney General Eric Holder held a news conference in which he said the police had created a “highly toxic environment” for the residents of Ferguson, especially for blacks.

“These policing practices disproportionately harm African American residents,” Holder said, according to prepared remarks from the news conference. “In fact, our review of the evidence found no alternative explanation for the disproportionate impact on African American residents other than implicit and explicit racial bias.”

According to the report, between 2012 and 2014, blacks made up 85 percent of the department’s vehicle stops, 90 percent of citations, and 93 percent of arrests, even though they comprise just 67 percent of Ferguson’s population.

In the 105-page report, the Department of Justice described numerous accounts from Ferguson residents about their interactions with police officers.

While many of the alleged incidents in the report appeared to be especially harsh, a few stood out. Here are five of the most shocking incidents laid out by the DOJ:

Black woman shocked with stun gun for not removing bracelets

In August 2010, the report said, a black woman in the Ferguson City Jail refused to remove her bracelets. In response, an officer used a stun gun on the woman “even though there were five officers present and the woman posed no physical threat,” according to the report.

Black man arrested on 8 counts after seen sitting in car

In the summer of 2012, a Ferguson police officer approached a black man who was cooling off in his car after playing basketball, according to the report. The windows were tinted darker than is allowed under Ferguson code, which the Justice Department said gave the officer legitimate cause to approach the man.

But that’s when things took a turn.

The officer accused the man of being a pedophile, the report said. The officer ordered the man out of the car “for a pat-down despite having no reason to believe he was armed.”

When the man refused a pat-down, the report said, the officer arrested him, allegedly with a gun pointed at the man’s head.

The Justice Department’s report said the man was arrested on suspicion of eight counts, “including making a false declaration for initially providing the short form of his first name.” The report did not name the man but compared it to giving the name “Mike” instead of “Michael.”

The DOJ also noted the man lost his job as a federal government contractor because of the arrest.

Ferguson officials circulated racist emails

The Justice Department said during the course of the investigation it found numerous racist emails sent by Ferguson officials from their city email accounts and apparently “during work hours.” Here’s a sampling:

One email “stated that President Barack Obama would not be President for very long because ‘what black man holds a steady job for four years’,” according to the report.

Another email, the DOJ said, “described a man seeking to obtain ‘welfare’ for his dogs because they are ‘mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are.'”

And yet another email, the report said, depicted President Obama as a chimpanzee.

Officer used stun gun on black man who was already on the ground

In January 2013, a Ferguson police officer stopped a black man who was spotted walking away from someone sitting in a truck, the report said. The officer went to arrest the man but “did not articulate any reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot,” according to the report.

When the man refused to answer the officer’s questions or submit to a pat-down, the officer allegedly grabbed the man by the belt and pulled out a stun gun. The report said man then crossed his arms and said he did nothing wrong.

The officer then reportedly used his stun gun on the man for a five-second cycle and the man fell to the ground. The report said officer then quickly used the stun gun again while the man was on the ground.

The officer defended his use of the stun gun by saying that the man tried to stand up, according to the report. However, a camera attached to the weapon found that the man initially “made no aggressive movement toward the officer” and that he then “never tried to stand — he only writhed in pain on the ground.”

The video captured by the weapon also showed that the officer continuously shocked the man with the stun gun for longer than 20 seconds.

Officers use stun gun on man for ‘trespassing’ at house where he’d been invited

In January 2015, officers reportedly tried to arrest a black man for trespassing at the home of his girlfriend’s grandparents, even though he had been invited to the home. Officers said that the man tried to resist arrest, leading multiple officers to approach him.

Seven officers allegedly hit the man and used stun guns, according to the report. The DOJ said “the young man suffered head lacerations with significant bleeding.”

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  1. These are not shocking for people in St. Louis who know that the police in some places are ultra aggressive and see themselves as The Law.

  2. Not just the Law but Judge and jury.

  3. #2, A black man loses his job because he is illegally arrested.
    #3, Racist email about Obama not having another term because black men can’t hold a job for more than 4 years.

  4. No. You entirely missed the point, TPM. While these isolated incidents are certainly horrifying and no doubt evidence that can be filed under “for every incident they found, there were X incidents they didn’t find,” the most disturbing part is not the individual examples. The most disturbing part is the pervasive, institutionalized racist abuse of power to “generate revenue,” particularly in ways that help red-state municipalities avoid generating revenue by raising tax rates. This finding, and the breadth and depth of the evidence supporting it, is HIGHLY suggestive that it’s a pervasive problem ACROSS THE COUNTRY. Targeted, systematic, highly orchestrated inequitable law enforcement and judicial policy designed to milk the poorest, most heavily minority communities…who are of course helpless to defend themselves and therefore make the best victims…of what little they do have in order to keep them poor, keep them criminalized, keep them locked up, keep them in debt, keep them in the system, keep them uneducated, keep them unemployed and unemployable, etc., is not just some freak, unique occurrence in Ferguson or the St. Louis area. IT IS UBIQUITOUS, particularly in these southern and red states…and is designed to keep white people in power, in privilege, in control and able to avoid inconveniences like having to compete for jobs with minorities. The connection between red state municipalities attempting to “prove” their ideology of keeping taxes low and their choice to engage in flagrant racist abuse of a segment of the population to subsidize that “proof” is undeniable. Conservatism and racism go HAND IN HAND.

    In short, the number one takeaway from this report is this, and you missed it: FERGUSON IS NOT UNIQUE.

    Holder waved goodbye with a mirror in his hand.

  5. I’ll just add that sadly, its not just in the south.

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