It has been recently revealed by news media that the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department is a troubled department at best. At least five Ferguson officers have been named in lawsuits dealing with excessive force. There have been at least four federal lawsuits, one of which is on appeal, and more than six investigations over the past 10 years for Ferguson police officers. The allegations include killing a mentally ill man with a taser, pistol whipping a child, choking and beating a man and then later charging him with damaging police property because his blood splattered on their police uniforms.
- In one specific officer’s situation, he left his previous police force under dubious circumstances. At his prior job, he was under three internal affairs investigations dealing with civil rights violations and excessive force. The department ultimately demoted him, having found evidence that supported some of the complaints. The officer in question was able to then get a job with the Ferguson Police Department.
- Another lawsuit deals with the death of Jason Moore, 31, who was killed by police through excessive use of a Taser. According to the lawsuit, Moore was found dazed and wandering behind a building in a residential area. Officer Brian Kaminski ordered Moore to put his hands up and walk towards him. At some point, Kaminski fired his Taser which hit Moore in his chest and legs. Another officer, Michael White, assisted and held Moore while Kaminski repeatedly tasered him with electric currents until he died of a heart attack. Moore was a metally ill black man and both Kaminski and White are both white officers.
- In a third lawsuit, Henry Davis, 54, was severely beaten in a physical confrontation with three Ferguson police officers. According to the officers, they claim Davis was combative but Davis denies this allegation. The officers involved were John Beaird, Kim Tihen and Michael White. All charged Davis with destruction of police property when he bled on them after being beaten. According to Davis, the beating occurred because he requested a sleeping mat in his holding cell so he would not have to sleep on the bare floor. The officers denied him the mat and attacked him when he started to protest. Davis was bleeding so badly that paramedics had to be called. When the paramedics saw Davis’ injuries because of the amount blood, they felt he needed to be transported to the hospital. When Davis arrived at the hospital, he refused medical treatment until someone took a picture of his injuries. Davis is black and all of the accused officers are white. During the the trial the judge ruled that Davis’ injuries were too minor to warrant a finding of excessive force. The case is now being appealed.
- The next case deals with Officer Eddie Boyd III. Boyd was the subject of three internal affairs investigations in 2004, 2005 in 2006 stating that he assaulted and injured children without cause. In the 2006 case, the police department found that the allegations were sustained. Because of that assault, Boyd was moved to the rank of a probationary police officer. The next year another child indicated that he was pistol whipped by officer Boyd. This case involved Christopher Dixon, a high school freshman, who said that Boyd tackled him as he fled a fight after school. During the physical confrontation, Boyd hit Dixon with the butt of his pistol, however Boyd claims he hit Dixon in the face with his handcuffs. There is another lawsuit against Boyd also alleging he beat up a suspect that is pending.
- The final officer in this rogue gallery is Justin Cosma. Cosma was a Jefferson County Sheriff Deputy who assaulted a 12-year-old boy who was checking the family’s mailbox. According to the incident report, the deputies questioned him, knocked him down, choked beat the child. In this case, all parties involved were white. Cosma is also the subject of an investigation for arresting reporters during coverage of the riots in Ferguson over the killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown.
All of these incidents indicate a pattern of excessive force by the Ferguson police department. With the revelation of the incidents involving these officers, Ferguson has 10 percent of its police force facing lawsuits. Former St. Louis Mayor Clarence Harmon has stated about Ferguson “The cases themselves are fairly extraordinary, so is the value. It’s prima facie evidence of discriminatory practices. I would be surprised if [the Justice Department] didn’t make a recommendation that they be placed under scrutiny.”
The only name not mentioned in upcoming or pending lawsuits is that of Darren Wilson, who shot and killed unarmed teen Michael Brown.