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The Justice Department will soon release a report condemning the Ferguson, Mo., police department for actions that helped to foster bitterness within the city’s black community ahead of last year’s high-profile shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer, according to The New York Times.The report will point a finger at police for targeting black residents during traffic stops and using those fines to make up a significant portion of the budget, the newspaper reported. The Times reports that the Justice Department could release those findings this week. If the department doesn’t make clear strides to change its policies, it could face a federal civil rights lawsuit.Racial tension in Ferguson came to a head last summer after then-officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in an altercation. A grand jury declined to charge Wilson, finding his use of force was justified. But many civil rights activists and others in the black community believe Wilson overreacted and that Brown didn’t pose a true threat to him.
The city, in its response, wrote that Tamir’s death on Nov. 22 and all of the injuries his family claims in the suit “were directly and proximately caused by their own acts, not this Defendant.” It also says that the 12-year-old’s shooting death was caused “by the failure … to exercise due care to avoid injury.”The response does not explain these defenses in more detail, though 20 defenses are listed in all, including another one that says Tamir died because of “the conduct of individuals or entities other than Defendant.”The city also wrote that it does not have enough information to respond in full because the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation into Rice’s death by police officer Timothy Loehmann is not finished.
The Rice family’s lawyers had filed their case initially in federal court last December, a brief eight-page document. On Friday, with a new legal team including Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who has represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, the Rice family filed a 65-page document charging at least 27 different allegations.Their claims ranging from excessive force by the two officers who encountered Rice, Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann, to negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, and deliberate indifference to a serious medical need.
When Rice arrived on the scene of the fatal shooting, she saw her 16-year-old son being held up against a police car surrounded by Cleveland police officers. Meanwhile, her 14-year-old daughter was being detained handcuffs in the back of the police car that Officer Loehmann had gotten out of prior to the shooting.Rice said as she tried to get to her son, the Cleveland police officers on the scene told her to calm down or they would put her in the police car, as well. “Police gave me an ultimatum” to either stay with her daughter or ride to the hospital with her son Tamir, she explained. “So of course I went with the 12-year-old.” Instead of riding next to her dying son, “They made me sit in front of the ambulance like I was a passenger,” she said.Tamir died of his wounds the next day and the coroner has since ruled the death a homicide.