Thursday, November 03, 2005


Chief Bratton: Overruled

Oh boy, the LAPD is never let off the hook, and never seems to get a day of rest when it comes to sorting out their own internal struggles. As we approach 2006, it seems that nothing has changed.

Before the vast majority of us stepped into law enforcement, each and every major department had an internal affairs bureau. The investigators from internal affairs, all sworn law enforcement officers, spent their time weeding through cases that involved a use of force and/or an officer involved shooting. Despite what you might want to believe, cops are good people, and 99% percent of the time their use of force is justified. Many people get the wrong idea about internal affairs because of what they see on TV, but internal affairs does more to help cops than they do to harm them. If anything, you want them on your side when a shooting happens, because they'll be the ones to clear you and justify your use of force.

Enter John Mack, the new president of the Police Commission within the City of Los Angeles. Mayor Villaraigosa appointed John Mack to head the Police Commission, who oversees every use of force case by officers. Despite what the Internal Affairs Bureau does to clear an officer, there's a good chance that Mack's commission will recommending that the officer is given his walking papers. Today, a detective learned that lesson first hand.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's newly appointed Police Commission has overruled Police Chief William J. Bratton and concluded that a detective with the Special Investigation Section acted improperly in shooting an unarmed burglary suspect last year.

The commission, which the mayor promised would be "vigorous in their oversight" of the LAPD, declined to accept Bratton's recommendation that the detective used proper force as allowed by department policy when he wounded the man last year in Van Nuys.

"This decision was not bound by personalities," commission President John Mack said. "We went where the facts took us. It is nothing personal."It is unusual for the commission to reject the chief's findings. In the vast majority of LAPD shootings, commissioners follow the recommendations of the chief when it comes to determining whether officers acted within the department's use-of-force policy, a Times review found. This track record has prompted LAPD critics to accuse the commission of being a rubber stamp for the chief and for not acting vigorously against police misconduct.

The new panel is expected to deal with several high-profile police misconduct cases in the months ahead, including the killing of 13-year-old Devin Brown at the end of a police chase and the shooting death of 19-month-old Suzie Peña during a hostage standoff.

If you remember, the Suzie Pena case involved a crazy illegal immigrant who was hooped-up on meth and decided to take a shotgun to SWAT team members while using his daughter as a human shield. We're going to be waiting on pins and needles to see what happens to the officers who had no choice but to shoot the man who was using the child as a shield, and in turn, shot the child as well.

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