List of police brutality in the United States

The following is a compilation of police brutality within the United States. Unfortunately additional incidents can be found online and continue to occur throughout the US today.

These cases and many more reveal our country’s systemic criminalization and devaluing of human lives.

The following includes brutal and unnecessary police actions.


  • 2011: Phoenix police officer Patrick Fresno was suspended without pay for body slamming a 15-year-old girl into a brick wall, who then fell to the cement ground. The incident was caught on video and has received international publicity.[1][2][3]
  • November 5, 2011: Danny Rodriguez, 28, was fatally shot by Officer Richard Chrisman inPhoenixduring an alleged domestic disturbance at the home they shared. After Rodriguez picked up a bicycle from the living room, Chrisman shot him twice and also shot Rodriguez’s pit bull. Chrisman was charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and animal cruelty. In 2013, he was convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter and aggravated assault, and sentenced to seven years in prison.[4]


  • March 7, 2006:Joseph Erin Hamley, a 21-year-old with cerebral palsy, was fatally shot by a state trooper while he was laying on the ground near a highway. The officer was found guilty of negligent homicide and sentenced to 90 days in jail and one year of probation. A lawsuit filed by Hamley’s family over the incident was settled for $1 million.


  • July 17, 1934: the CaliforniaNational Guard blocked both ends of Jackson Street from Drumm to Front with machine gun mounted trucks to assist vigilante raids, protected by the San Francisco Police Department, on the headquarters of the Marine Workers’ Industrial Union and theInternational Longshoremen’s Association soup kitchen at 84 Embarcadero. Moving on, the Workers’ Ex-Servicemen’s League’s headquarters on Howard between Third and Fourth was raided, leading to 150 arrests and the complete destruction of the facilities. The employer’s group, the Industrial Association, had agents riding with the police. Further raids were carried out at the Workers’ Open Forum at 1223 Fillmore Street and the Western Worker building opposite City Hall that contained a bookstore and the main offices of the Communist Party, which was thoroughly destroyed. Attacks were also perpetrated on the Workers’ School at 121 Haight Street and the Mission Workers’ Neighborhood House at 741 Valencia Street.[5] This brought to an end the 1934 West Coast waterfront strike.
  • December 25, 1951: Roughly 50 Los Angeles Police Department officers participated in the beating of sevenLatino men at a police station. This so-called Bloody Christmas event was depicted in James Ellroy‘s A. Confidential.
  • May 13, 1960: A large group of students and other citizens were fire-hosed down the marble steps inside the San Francisco City Hall rotunda by the SFPD for protesting their exclusion from HUAC hearings; 52 people were arrested over the incident.
  • 1986:Michael Zinzun became involved in a scuffle with police when attending the scene of an arrest, and was permanently blinded in one eye. He won a $1.2 million settlement as a result.[6]
  • October 6, 1989: In response to a small, peaceful protest by the AIDS activist groupACT UP San Francisco, more than 200 SFPD officers descend on the Castro District, the city’s main gay neighborhood, on a busy Friday evening. Declaring the entire commercial district an unlawful-assembly zone, officers sweep all pedestrians from the streets and sidewalks over a seven-block area and prevent patrons from exiting businesses and residents from leaving their homes for an hour or more. More than 50 individuals are arrested, and a number of protesters and passersby are clubbed and injured by police officers. Following the event, the Office of Citizen Complaints, the city’s independent police review board, determines that the crackdown had been ordered by Deputy Chief Frank Reed and that half of all officers on duty had taken part. The San Francisco Police Commission ultimately disciplines several officers, and the city pays $250,000 to settle two civil suits brought by victims of the police misconduct. The police action comes to be known as the Castro Sweep Police Riot.[7]
  • March 3, 1991:Rodney King‘s arrest and beating by officers of the Los Angeles Police Department was videotaped by a bystander. Four law enforcement officers—Stacey Koon,Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, and Theodore Briseno—were charged locally with assault and other charges, of which they were acquitted, leading to the 1992 Los Angeles riots. King accepted a $3.8 million settlement in his civil lawsuit against the city, while the officers were later charged in federal court of violating King’s civil rights. Two of them were convicted.[8]
  • August 25, 1995: Wayne Calvin Byrd II along with four other associates were beaten and arrested by theLos Angeles Police Department‘s CRASH unit in the Marina Del Rey community of West Los Angeles.[9] Although attempts were made by the City of Los Angeles to settle the case, several Pacific Division Los Angeles Police Department officers, including Officer Ramirez, Officer Villalpando, Officer Damiano, and Officer Williams were found guilty of various civil rights violations, including false imprisonment.[10] All charges against the four victims were eventually dropped.
  • October 12, 1996:Javier Ovando was shot and paralyzed by LAPD Officer Rafael Pérez and his partner Nino Durden. The two officers planted a gun on the unarmed gang member and testified that Ovando shot first. The truth was revealed in 1999 as part of the Rampart investigation, and in the largest police misconduct settlement in city history, Javier Ovando was awarded $15 million in November 2000.[11]
  • June–July 2000: A string of incidents of police misconduct by a group of officers from the Oakland Police Department known as “theOakland Riders” came to light.[12] 119 people pressed civil rights lawsuits for unlawful beatings and detention, ultimately settling for $11 million with an agreement that the Oakland Police Department would implement significant reforms.[13] Although all of the police officers involved were terminated, three were later acquitted of criminal charges while one fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution.[14]
  • July 6, 2002: Video footage taken by videographer Mitchell Crooks showed 16-year-old Donovan Jackson being beaten by officers from the Inglewood Police Department.[15]In the video, Officer Jeremy Morse is seen repeatedly punching Jackson, and then picking him up and slamming him down on the back of a police car.[16] To date, legal settlements have cost the city of Inglewoodover $3 million.[17] Morse was terminated and charged with assault, but the charges were dropped after two trials ended with hung juries. His partner, Officer Bijan Darvish, was suspended and charged with filing a false police report, but acquitted by a jury.[18]
  • February 17, 2004: Rodolfo “Rudy” Cardenas, 43, was shot and killed by Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement agent Michael Walker in downtownSan Jose. Walker mistook Cardenas for a wanted fugitive, and shot him during a foot chase. Walker was charged with voluntary manslaughter but was found not guilty.[19] In 2006, Cardenas’ family received $1 million from a federal civil rights lawsuit.[20]
  • December 23, 2004: Juan Herrera was shot and killed by Officer Ron Furtado after a car pursuit inBuena Park, California. Officer Furtado claimed that Herrera was reaching for a gun. Herrera’s family sued and hired a forensic expert who was prepared to testify otherwise. However, the city settled with the Herrera family for $5 million. Officer Furtado was not charged.[21]
  • January 1, 2009:Oscar Grant was shot in the back and killed by BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle while on the ground at a train station in Oakland, California. Initially charged with second-degree murder, Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. He made an apology to Grant’s family while he was on trial. On November 5, 2010, Mehserle was sentenced to two years, minus time served, with the possibility of being paroled after about 1 year.[22]Mehserle was released on June 13, 2011 after serving 11 months. Grant’s family accepted a $1.5 million settlement from the city.
  • May 13, 2009: Officers from theEl Monte Police Department were involved in a vehicle pursuit of suspect Richard Rodriguez. Rodriguez stopped, exited the car, and ran. Shortly afterward, Officer George Fierro cornered him at a dead-end street. It is alleged that when Rodriguez laid on the ground, Fierro kicked him in the head and gave a high-five to three other officers who arrived immediately afterward. The entire incident was captured on video and later publicized. Fierro was subsequently suspended.[23]
  • July 5, 2011:Kelly Thomas was a 37-year-old homeless man suffering from schizophrenia and living on the streets of Fullerton, California. He was beaten by members of the Fullerton Police Department. Thomas died from his injuries on July 10, 2011. Unarmed and mentally ill, Thomas was shocked with tasers and beaten with flashlights by up to six police officers. An investigation into the beating has been launched and the FBI has become involved. A protest over the beating was held outside the Fullerton Police Department on July 18. 2011.[24] Four officers were suspended and two charged with second degree murder and manslaughter. Proceedings concluded on January 13, 2014 with both Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli being found not guilty of any criminal charges.
  • November 18, 2011:UC Davis pepper-spray incident. During an Occupy movement protest at theUniversity of California, Davis campus, a group of protesters who were seated on a paved path were pepper-sprayed by UC Davis Police officer John Pike. On September 26, 2012, The University of California announced its decision to offer $30,000 to each of 21 plaintiffs who were pepper-sprayed by John Pike, according to a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit. UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi apologized to the students, saying that the police had acted against her orders for there to be no arrests and no use of force.[25][26]
  • April 4, 2014: FormerWest Sacramento police officer Sergio Alvarez was sentenced to 205 years on 18 counts of kidnapping and sexually assaulting women while he was on duty during the night shift. In a letter to the court, Alvarez’s estranged wife Rachael Alvarez stated: “Sergio Alvarez was the fire that destroyed my family’s home,” while West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon described the crimes as “reprehensible.” The 38-year-old Alvarez was sentenced by Judge Timothy Fall for “forced oral copulation and rape,” kidnapping, and “rape and oral copulation under color of authority.”[27]
  • July 1, 2014:California Highway Patrol officer Daniel Andrew repeatedly punched Marlene Pinnock, a 51-year-old bipolar woman, near the side of a freeway in Los Angeles. In September 2014, Pinnock received $1.5 million after a lawsuit was settled against the CHP, and Andrew agreed to resign from his job.[28]
  • April 9, 2015: InSan Bernardino County, Francis Pusok was filmed being kicked and punched by multiple deputies as he laid on the ground after stepping off a horse. Later that month, Pusok received a $650,000 lawsuit settlement against the county over the incident.[29]


  • September 1999: a Denver Police SWAT team performed ano-knock raid on the home of 45-year-old Mexican national, Ismael Mena, believing there to be drugs in the house. Police said that Mena pulled a gun on officers and opened fire, necessitating deadly force be used. Allegations of a police coverup of the shooting were never substantiated. Information from Mexican authorities indicated that Mena was a suspect in a homicide there. No drugs were found on the premise. Media and critics of the police department’s handling of the situation have pointed out inconsistencies in officers’ stories.[30] Joseph Bini, the officer who gave the address to the SWAT team, was charged with first-degree official misconduct, and sentenced to 12 months probation. The city of Denver later settled a lawsuit filed by Mena’s family out of court for the amount of $400,000.
  • April 2008: 16-year-old Juan Vasquez ran from members of the Denver Police Department and hopped several fences, an officer shouted for him “to stop or he would shoot him in the back.” The officer then threw his flashlight, hitting Vasquez “with such force that it shattered on impact,” When Vasquez fell in the alley, the first officer jumped on his back and sat there while the officers punched and kicked Vasquez as he “begged” them to stop. Two of the arresting officers testified that Officer Charles Porter began jumping up and down on the teen’s back while he was handcuffed and lying face-down on the ground. Vasquez, who is 5-foot-6 and 130 pounds, was hospitalized with a lacerated liver, a ruptured spleen, damage to both kidneys and bruised or fractured ribs. He spent three days in intensive care handcuffed to the bed. Officer Porter was charged and acquitted of felony assault charges. He was the only witness at his defense and claimed the other officers who testified against him had caused the injuries during the arrest and had conspired to pin the blame on him. Vasquez filed a lawsuit for 1.3 million dollars, and the city settled for “just under $1,000,000”.[31][32]
  • January 2009: Alexander Landau and his passenger Addison Hunold were pulled over for an illegal left turn. Officer Randy Murr asked for consent to perform a search of the vehicle. Landau asked to see a warrant, and Officer Murr responded by punching him in the face and knocking him to the ground. Officer Murr, along with officers Ricky Nixon and Tiffany Middleton, then proceeded to beat him for several minutes with police radios and a flashlight. After the beating had stopped, Landau heard one of the officers say, “Where’s that warrant now, you fucking nigger?”. By the time the incident went to court, Officer Murr had been fired because of his involvement in the beating of Michael DeHerrera. Officer Nixon had been fired as well, due to his involvement in an incident at the Denver Diner wherein women were clubbed and maced. The City of Denver agreed to settle the case and gave Landau $795,000.00.[33]
  • July 2010: Denver police officers’ use of force resulted in the death of Marvin Booker, according to the federal lawsuit won by Booker’s family that resulted in $4.65 million being awarded by a jury in October 2014.[34]


  • December 29, 1998: InNew Milford, 19-year-old Franklyn Reid was shot and killed by officer Scott Smith during a foot chase. Smith was charged with murder in Reid’s death, and was found guilty of manslaughter in 2000. He was initially sentenced to six years in prison, but the conviction was appealed, and Smith pleaded no contest to misdemeanor criminally negligent homicide in 2004, and received two years of probation.[35][36]


  • January 29, 2008: Quadriplegic Brian Sterner was dumped from his wheelchair as he was being booked for an alleged traffic violation at theHillsborough County, Florida Sheriff’s Office jail facility. Surveillance video showed Sterner tumbling to the floor and officers searching his clothing as he lay prone.[37][38] The video raised concerns about police treatment of the disabled after being widely circulated on news channels andYouTube.[39] After the video was publicized, the deputy responsible resigned and was charged with felony abuse on a disabled person. Charges were dropped when she agreed to a plea bargain in which she would perform 100 hours of community service with the disabled and agree never to work in law enforcement again. Several other deputies were suspended without pay, and one supervisor was fired for not reporting the incident.


  • November 21, 2006:Kathryn Johnston, an 92-year-old Atlanta woman, was shot and killed by police officers who had entered her home with a no knock warrant that had been based on false information.[40] She had fired one shot over the heads of the police, who she assumed were intruders, when they knocked down her door.[41] Those responsible later admitted to planting marijuana in Johnston’s house and submitting cocaine into evidence, lying that it had been bought there.[42] Two of the three officers involved would eventually plead guilty to charges including manslaughter.[42] The three were sentenced to five, six, and ten years in prison.[41]


  • October 7, 2009: 15-year-old Marshawn Pitts, who is an intellectually disabled student, was beaten byDolton police officer Christopher Lloyd at a school for special needs children Pitts attends and Lloyd works at. The assault was caught on surveillance cameras. Lloyd said that he ordered Pitts to tuck in his shirt and Pitts had cursed at him and was acting belligerent. Pitts, however, said that he did not understand what Lloyd was saying and Lloyd proceeded to slam him against the wall, repeatedly punch him in the face, and hold his face onto the floor, breaking his nose and preventing him from breathing. Several students and teachers had to physically bring Lloyd off of Pitts. Lloyd was placed on administrative leave and later resigned.[43]
  • June 7, 2011: Flint Farmer was fatally shot three times in the back byChicago police officer Gildardo Sierra. Sierra and a partner had responded to a domestic disturbance call allegedly involving Farmer. When confronted by the police, Farmer fled. Sierra shot at Farmer multiple times, hitting him in the leg and abdomen. Publicly available police video shows Sierra circle the prone Farmer as three bright flashes emit from approximately waist level.[44] The coroner who performed the autopsy on Farmer reported that Farmer could have survived the shots to the leg and abdomen, but any of the three shots through the back would have been fatal.[44] Although the Chicago police department ruled the shooting justified, by October 23, 2011 Sierra had been stripped of his police powers and the FBI had opened an investigation into the incident.[45]
  • March 13, 2013: 47-year old Cassandra Feuerstein suffered serious facial injuries after being forcibly thrown into a holding cell bySkokie police officer Michael Hart. Hart was later charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct.[46]


  • March 22, 1990: During a shootout, Adolph Archie, anAfrican American killed a white officer, Earl Hauck in downtown New Orleans. Moments later a security guard shot Archie in the arm and he was taken into custody by police officers. As the prisoner was driven from the scene in a patrol car, angry officers could be heard on the police radio cursing and calling for him to be killed. The demands were heard all over New Orleans. When the car carrying Archie arrived at a hospital, a mob of screaming officers was there to meet it. No superior officers dispersed the mob. For reasons that have never been satisfactorily answered, Adolph Archie was not taken into the hospital, but was driven to a station house in the precinct of the officer he had killed. There he was fatally beaten. No officer was ever charged in connection with Archie’s death.[47] A settlement of $333,000 was eventually reached between Archie’s family and the city, with one-third of the sum going to the family of the fallen officer.[48]
  • September 2, 2005:Henry Glover was shot to death and his body was burned by New Orleans police officers following Hurricane Katrina. Glover was near a strip mall and mistaken for an armed looter when officer David Warren shot him. Glover was taken by a bystander to a nearby school for medical attention where other officers set fire to a car containing Glover’s body. Several officers received lengthy sentences for burning Glover’s body and the subsequent cover-up. Officer Warren was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison for manslaughter, but on appeal received a new trial which has yet to begin.[49]
  • September 4, 2005:A deadly police shooting occurred on the Danziger Bridge in the aftermath ofHurricane Katrina in 2005. Six days after the hurricane, seventeen-year-old James Brissette and forty-year-old Ronald Madison were killed in the gunfire, and four other civilians were wounded. All victims were unarmed. Madison, a mentally disabled man, was shot in the back. Members of the New Orleans Police Department coordinated and fabricated a cover-up story for their crime, falsely reporting that seven police officers responded to a police dispatch reporting an officer down, and that at least four people were firing weapons at the officers upon their arrival. The officers also planted a gun at the scene to make it seem the civilians were armed.[50] On August 5, 2011, a New Orleans Federal Court jury found five police officers guilty of a myriad of charges related to the cover-up and deprivation of civil rights.[51]
  • October 9, 2005:Robert Davis was filmed in an altercation with New Orleans police officers. In the video, Davis is punched in the head several times by the officers and kicked as he laid on the ground covered in blood. An Associated Press reporter was also assaulted by one of the officers. Two officers were later fired and one was suspended when they were charged with battery as a result of the incident.[52] However, charges were dropped against two officers and one committed suicide pending a trial.


  • June 25, 2003: Albert Mosely was arrested for a probation violation and transported to the Baltimore Police Department’s Western District stationhouse, where he became involved in an altercation with Officer Bryan Kershaw. Mosely was still handcuffed when Officer Kershaw picked him up and threw him into the concrete wall of a holding cell. Mosley was rendered quadriplegic, sued the city, and was awarded $44 million in damages. The city appealed and the suit was eventually settled for $6 million.[53][54]
  • June 5, 2008: Tyrone Brown, a United States Marine, was fatally shot by an off-duty Baltimore police officer, Gahiji Tshamba. After partying at a night club, Brown made a sexual advance toward Tshamba’s girlfriend. Tshamba pushed Brown away and shot him. Tshamba claimed Brown was being aggressive and he was in fear for his life. However, witnesses said that Brown was turning to leave when Tshamba shot him. Tshamba was subsequently convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison.[55][56]
  • 2011: Baltimore police officer Anthony Williams assaulted and severely injured Antoine Green. Williams was convicted by a jury of assault and hindering the investigation that followed.[57][58]
  • 2012: District Heights Sgt. Johnnie Riley shot handcuffed motorcyclist Calvin Kyle during a traffic stop. Kyle was paralyzed from the waist down. Riley was found guilty of assault and using a handgun during a violent crime. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison.[59]
  • 2012: Baltimore police officers wrongfully beat Ashley Overbey in her own home after she reported a burglary in progress, according to her lawsuit that was settled for $63,000.[58]
  • 2013: Baltimore police officers wrongfully shot Odatei Mills, according to his lawsuit that was settled for $1 million.[58]
  • 2000’s: A Baltimore police officer wrongfully assaulted and injured an 87-year-old woman, according to her lawsuit that was settled for $95,000.[58]
  • 2000’s: A Baltimore police officer wrongfully assaulted and injured a pregnant woman, according to her lawsuit that was settled for $125,000.[58]


  • November 5, 1992: InDetroitMichiganMalice Green died while in police custody after being arrested by Detroit police officers Walter Budzyn and Larry Nevers during a traffic stop. Green allegedly failed to relinquish a vial of crack cocaine. Nevers struck Green in the head with his flashlight approximately fourteen times during the struggle which, according to the official autopsy, resulted in his death. AnEmergency Medical Service (EMS) worker arrived on the scene and sent a computer message to his superiors asking, “(W)hat should I do, if I witness police brutality/murder?” Other officers and a supervisor arrived but did not intervene to stop the beating. Green had a seizure and died en route to the hospital. The official cause of death was ruled due to blunt force trauma to his head. Both officers were convicted of second degree murder, but in a retrial (due to juror misconduct), they were convicted of involuntary manslaughter.[60][61]


  • April 2, 2005: Al Hixon was handcuffed,pepper-sprayed in his eyes and nostrils, and arrested byGolden Valley Police for robbery. While the 911 transcript reveals that the Golden Valley police had twice been informed that a white male in a white van had robbed a local bank, two Golden Valley police officers proceeded rapidly to a nearby gas station and arrested Mr. Hixon, a dark-skinned black man, who was refueling his Jaguar automobile. Despite being informed twice that the robber was white, the officers arrested Hixon for the crime. The charges were dropped when they realized their mistake. Hixon was awarded the largest police brutality punitive damages in Minnesota history by a jury. No discipline was taken against the officers.[62]


  • May 14, 1970: Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, 21, and James Earl Green, 17, were shot and killed and twelve others injured as police attempted to disperse about 100 protesting black students near the campus ofJackson State University in Mississippi. Known as the Jackson State killings, the incident was overshadowed in the media by the Kent State shootings in which four white students were killed by the National Guard about a week earlier. A memorial to the two dead students has since been erected on the Jackson State campus.[63]
  • February 4, 2006: Jessie Lee Williams Jr. died ofbrain trauma after being beaten by jailer Ryan Teel during booking at Harrison County, Mississippi  Teel was later found “guilty of conspiring to deprive inmates’ rights, using unnecessary, excessive force in Williams’ fatal beating, and obstructing justice by writing a false report.”[64] In the civil lawsuit which ensued, the Williams estate obtained a settlement of $3.5 million from Harrison County.[65]


  • February 5, 2009: Sofia Salva, aSudanese native was driving to the hospital when she felt she was having a miscarriage. Two Kansas City, Missouri police officers pulled her over for having stolen tags and suspected her to have stolen the car. On the police car’s dashcamera, Salva pleads to the officers twenty times to let her go to the hospital, and one officer can be heard saying, “How’s that my problem?” They eventually take her to jail, where she delivered her baby that lived for a minute. She was then treated at the hospital and returned to jail. The officers were suspended and eventually fired. The city settled a lawsuit brought by Salva.[66]
  • 2015: the U.S. Justice Department released a report that concluded that Ferguson, Missouri’s police officers used excessive force and committed other rights violations against blacks.[67]


  • 2011: Las Vegas policeman Derek Collings was fired for assaulting videographer Mitchell Crooks, allegedly in retaliation for filming his activities. Crooks suffered compound fractures, lacerations, and contusions. He received $100,000 to settle his lawsuit against Colling.[68][69][70]
  • 2011: Las Vegas police officer Jesus Arevalo fatally shot an unarmed man, Stanley Gibson, whose family received a $1.5 million wrongful-death lawsuit settlement. Arevalo became the first Las Vegas police officer to be fired because of a fatal shooting.[71][72]
  • 2013: Las Vegas police officer John Norman was sentenced to two years in prison for sexually assaulting two women in separate incidents while on duty.[73]

New Jersey

  • May 29, 2009: Police officer Joseph R. Rios III was recorded by a surveillance camera striking 49-year-oldschizophrenic Ronnie Holloway in Passaic, with his fist and a baton.[74][75][75]According to Holloway’s attorney his injuries included a torn cornea and extensive bruising to the left side of his body. Rios was put on administrative duty and subsequently suspended. He was acquitted of aggravated assault and police misconduct charges, but has not been reinstated. Holloway’s family accepted a $350,000 settlement from the city.[76][77]

New Mexico

  • January 24, 2012: FormerDoña Ana County, New Mexico prisoner Stephen Slevin,of Virginia Beach, Va., was awarded 15.5 million for the ordeal by a Federal jury he had requested 22 million – one of the largest such awards in US history. Slevin was arrested in August, 2005 and charged with driving while intoxicated and receiving a stolen vehicle. He was jailed and kept in solitary for 22 months without a trial.[78][79] He was finally seen by a judge on June 25, 2007; the judge declared him mentally incompetent and dismissed the charges.[80] According to his lawyer, the car had been loaned to him by a friend. Slevin claimed that while he was jailed multiple requests to see a doctor were denied.[81][82] County officials denied allegations their jail was a ‘rathole’.[80][83]

New York

  • 1985: Mark Davidson was arrested byNYPD detectives on charges of selling $10 worth of marijuana and taken to the 106th Precinct in the Ozone Park section of Queens, where he was shocked with astun gun 43 times by Sgt. Richard Pike and Officer Jeffrey Gilbert. In 1986, the two officers were convicted of violating Davidson’s civil rights and sentenced to prison.[84][85]
  • 1994:Anthony Baez died after being arrested by NYPD Officer Francis X. Livoti.[86] A lawsuit filed by the Baez family was later settled for $3 million.[87] Livoti was found guilty of violating Baez’s civil rights in federal court and sentenced to seven years in prison.
  • 1996: UnarmedNathaniel Levi Gaines was shot in the back by NYPD officer Paolo Colecchia on the train platform at 167th Street and the Grand Concourse. Colechia shot Gaines as he fled down the deserted Bronx subway platform. Coleccia was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for the killing and was only the third NYPD officer to receive a prison sentence for committing an on-duty homicide.[88]
  • August 1997:Abner Louima was sodomized with a broken broomstick handle while detained in a New York City police station by Officer Justin Volpe. Louima was left bleeding from the rectum in a booking cell. Despite an initial cover-up by various members of the NYPD, Volpe was convicted of assault and sentenced to 30 years in prison.[89] Two officers were convicted of the cover-up while one was acquitted.
  • 1999: UnarmedGuinea immigrant Amadou Diallo was shot 41 times and killed by NYPD officers, who claimed he was reaching for a gun. Diallo’s family received a $3 million lawsuit settlement.[90][91]
  • 2003: UnarmedOusmane Zongo was shot to death by a plainclothes NYPD officer. The police mistakenly suspected him of being part of a CD theft operation and shot him when he ran. The officer who shot Zongo received five years probation for negligent homicide.[92]
  • 2004:Timothy Stansbury was mistakenly shot and killed by New York City Police DepartmentOfficer Richard S. Neri Jr.[93][94] As a result, Neri received a 30-day suspension without pay.[95]Stanbury’s family’s lawsuit over the shooting was settled in 2007 for $2 million.[96]
  • 2006: TheSean Bell shooting incident occurred in QueensNew York City in which three men were shot at a total of 50 times by plainclothes NYPD officers, which resulted in the death of one of the men, Sean Bell, on the morning after his bachelor party, and injuries to the other two men, who were Bell’s guests and friends.[97][98][99] Bell’s family received a $3.25 million lawsuit settlement over his death. The two other shooting victims, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, received respective $3 million and $900,000 sums, for a total of $7.15 million in lawsuit settlements.[100]
  • 2012: Ramarley Graham, 18, was fatally shot in the chest by NYPD Officer Richard Haste in a bathroom of his home. Haste claimed Graham had a weapon although none were found on Graham’s body. In 2015, Graham’s family received a $3.9 million lawsuit settlement from the NYPD.[101]


  • May 24, 2010: Maurice White, anemergency medical technician (EMT), was assaulted byOklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Daniel Martin.[102] In the dash camera video,[103] Martin pulled over the ambulance for failing to yield (it turned out that there was a patient inside), claiming that the driver flashed an obscene finger gesture at him. White tried to explain to him that they needed to get to the hospital but Martin ordered him back into the ambulance. When White again asked to go to the hospital, Martin tried to arrest him and put him in a chokehold when White resisted. Eventually, another officer convinced Martin to let them go to the hospital. Martin claimed White assaulted him, but the cell-phone video contradicted that. Martin was suspended for five days and ordered to undergo anger counseling. White filed a lawsuit against Martin for violating his civil rights.[104]


  • 1997: A Cincinnati police officer wrongfully fatally shot mental patient Lorenzo Collins, according to Collins’ family’s lawsuit that was settled for $200,000.[105]
  • 1999: Cincinnati police officer Brent McCurley wrongfully shot Michael Carpenter nine times, killing him, according to Carpenter’s mother’s lawsuit that was settled for $700,000.[105][106]
  • 1999: Cincinnati police officer Robert Hill wrongfully assaulted and seriously injured 68-year-old Alzheimer’s patient Robert Wittenberg, according to his lawsuit that was settled for $700,000.[105]
  • 2001: Sixteen brutality lawsuits filed against Cincinnati police officers over their handling of a 2001 race riot were settled for $4.5 million in 2003.[107][108]
  • October 20, 2006: Hope Steffey called 911 for help after being assaulted by her cousin. Deputies from theStark County Sheriff’s department arrived, arrested her and brought her into custody. There, she was stripped naked by both male and female deputies and left in a cold cell and without a blanket without medical attention for injuries sustained during the ordeal.[109] Deputies claimed that she had answered a series of questions in a way that led them to believe she was suicidal, a claim Steffey denied.[110] When the video was publicized, several women came forward, claiming abuse and harassment from deputies. In 2009, the county and sheriff’s department settled lawsuits brought by Steffey and other women for $200,000. The Stark County Sheriff’s Department denying any wrongdoing.[111]
  • 2008: SWAT officers from theLima Police Department raided the home of Tarika Wilson and her six children with an arrest warrant for her boyfriend, a drug dealer. However, upon entering the house, Tarika was fatally shot and her one-year-old son, who was in her arms, was wounded in the shoulder and hand.[112] Officers were looking for Wilson’s boyfriend, who later pleaded guilty to drug trafficking. The officer who delivered the shots claimed that he heard shots from the house and was in fear of his life; it turned out that other officers were shooting at pit bulls that were attacking them. The shooting led to protests and demands that the officer be charged. The officer was acquitted of negligent homicide and misconduct charges by a jury and was allowed to return to work as a police officer, but not patrol the streets. Wilson’s family accepted a $2.5 million settlement from the city.[113]
  • 2009:Ottawa Hills police officer Thomas White shot and paralyzed unarmed motorcyclist Michael McCloskey during a traffic stop. White was fired over the shooting and subsequently found guilty of feloniously assaulting McCloskey, but his conviction was later reversed by the 6th District Court of Appeals, which also ordered a new trial. In 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the appeals court’s ruling.[114]
  • 2013: Edward Henderson was beaten and injured by Cleveland police after he crashed his van, according to Henderson’s lawsuit against the officers that was settled for $600,000. Henderson suffered a detached retina and broken eye socket as a result of the alleged assault.[115]
  • 2014: The U.S. Justice Department released a report that included 16 examples of what investigators concluded was Cleveland police misconduct (mainly brutality).[116]


  • September 17, 2006: a mentally ill homeless man,James Chasse, was tackled by Portland police officers and a Multnomah County sheriff‘s deputy after he ran away from them and resisted arrest, the officers said. As a result of the subsequent physical confrontation, Chasse sustained internal injuries, including broken ribs. After being taken into custody, Chasse was medically cleared by fire and ambulance personnel. He was then restrained and driven to jail, where nursing staff refused to approve his admission because of his injuries. The officers were told by jail staff to drive him to a hospital across town; he died en route to it. The case was presented to a grand jury, but no criminal charges were filed against the officers. However, Chasse’s family prevailed in a civil suit against the city of Portland. The citizens of Portland were outraged over the treatment of the mentally ill in their city and the US Department of Justice has been involved in an independent investigation of the Portland Police and are currently monitoring their use of force, particularly that used against the mentally ill.[117][118]
  • 2006: white Portland police officers wrongly detained three black men during a traffic stop because of their race – and assaulted and injured one of the men – according to the men’s lawsuit that resulted in a $200,000 jury award (which was to be divided equally among the three plaintiffs).[119]
  • 2007: Portland police officer Leo Besner wrongfully fatally shot mental patient Raymond Gwerder, according to the Gwerder family’s lawsuit that was settled for $500,000.[119]
  • 2011: Portland police officers wrongfully assaulted and seriously injured Jason Cox during a traffic stop, according to his lawsuit that resulted in a $562,000 jury award to him.[120]


  • 1985: Philadelphia police officers dropped a mixture of civilian and military explosives on a homemade wooden bunker built on the roof of theOsage Avenue house occupied by members of the radical group MOVE. The two bombs dropped from a helicopter ignited a massive fire that killed 11 occupants of the house and destroyed dozens of nearby houses, leaving over 250 people homeless.[121][122][123]
  • 1988: Philadelphia police officers beat Tracy McDaniel, who received an $850,000 lawsuit settlement over the assault.[124]
  • 1990: Philadelphia police officers allegedly beat David B. Hayes with nightsticks, causing him permanent brain damage. Hayes received $500,000 to settle his lawsuit against the officers.[124]
  • 1991: fiveUpper Darby policemen were convicted in federal court of violating the civil rights of two residents, a father and son. Each of the officers was found guilty on several counts involving felonious assault, false arrest and malicious prosecution. The officers, Sgt. Peter Rorke, Gary Vinnacombe, Dennis Keegan, Paul Kelly and Richard Smythe, were sentenced to prison.[125][126][127][128][129]
  • 1994, Philadelphia police officers recklessly drove an unrestrained Gino Thompson in their van, causing him to fall, which resulted in Thompson’s spine being severed. Thompson sued and settled for $600,000.[124]
  • 1995: Six Philadelphia police officers from the same district were convicted of assaulting, robbing and framing 40 black people. The39th District corruption scandal attracted international attention.[130][131][132]
  • 1995:Jonny Gammage, cousin of then-Steeler lineman Ray Seals, died from suffocation while fighting with five police officers during a traffic stop in Brentwood, near Pittsburgh.[133]Gammage’s family received a $1.5 million lawsuit settlement over his death.[134]
  • 1996: Philadelphia police officers wrongfully beat mental patient Anthony DiDonato to death, according to DiDonato’s family’s lawsuit that was settled for $1.1 million.[135]
  • 1997: Philadelphia police lieutenant George Holcombe wrongfully and fatally shot Christopher Adams, according Adams’ family’s lawsuit that was settled for $750,000.[136]
  • 2003: Philadelphia police officer Kenneth Fleming wrongfully and brutally assaulted a minister, profoundly injuring him, according to the minister’s lawsuit that was settled for $750,000.[137][138][139]
  • 2003: Philadelphia police officer Walter Helinsky was convicted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl multiple times, on certain occasions whilst on duty. Helinsky was sentenced to up to 13 years in state prison.[140][141][142]
  • 2006: a federal jury ordered two former Philadelphia policemen, James Fallon and Timothy Carre, to pay $8.3 million to a female stripper whom the two had (on November 14, 2003) pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting while on patrol duty in December 2002. The stripper was one of nine women who had filed sex abuse-related complaints against the two officers.[143][144]
  • 2007: Philadelphia police officer Thomas Tolstoy sexually assaulted two women while he was on duty, according to the women’s lawsuits that were settled for $227,500.[145][146][147]
  • 2007: Philadelphia police officer Thomas Ohm wrongfully and fatally shot mental patient Reora Askew five times, including twice in the back, according to the lawsuit of Askew’s son, Marcus, which was settled for $500,000.[148]
  • 2007: Philadelphia police officer Stephen Szczepkowski wrongfully and fatally shot unarmed 21-year-old Bryan Jones, according to the Jones’ family lawsuit that was settled for $1.2 million.[149]
  • 2008: Several Philadelphia police officers were videotaped beating three compliant black men during a traffic stop. The three men successfully sued the officers over the incident, settling out of court.[150][151]The three men were arrested but subsequently acquitted by a jury.[152]
  • 2008: Philadelphia police officer Thomas Schaffling wrongfully assaulted and seriously injured a man, according to the man’s lawsuit that was settled for $231,000.[153]
  • 2008: Philadelphia police officer Shamaya Allen-Bullock wrongfully and fatally shot Ricky Howard while he was fighting off an armed robber, according to Howard’s family’s lawsuit that was settled for $460,000.[154]
  • 2010: Philadelphia police officer Malaika T. Mebane was convicted of charges related to the sexual assault of a prisoner and sentenced to two to four years in state prison.[155][156]
  • 2010: Philadelphia police officer Eric Burke severely assaulted Dr. Anthony Abrams, permanently damaging his eye socket and vision, according to Abrams’ lawsuit that was settled for $285,000.[157][158][159]
  • 2010: Philadelphia police officer Jimmy Leocal beat community activist Askia Sabur. Sabur received $850,000 to settle his lawsuit against Leocal and the Philadelphia Police Department.[160][161]
  • 2011: Philadelphia police officers recklessly drove an unrestrained James McKenna in their police van, severely injuring him in the process. The lawsuit was settled for $490,000 in September 2014.[162]
  • 2011: Philadelphia police officers brutally beat and tasered Kahlif Snowden, which caused debilitating injuries according to his father’s lawsuit that was settled for $2.5 million.[161][163]
  • 2011: Philadelphia police officers wrongfully killed mental patient Carmelo Winans, according to two of Winans’ relatives’ lawsuits that were settled for over $400,000.[164][165]
  • 2012: Philadelphia police officer Kevin Robinson brutally assaulted, seriously injured and falsely arrested Darren Trammell, according to Trammell’s lawsuit that was settled for $125,000. Trammell suffered a broken eye socket, permanent vision damage and other injuries. He was cleared of all charges.[166]
  • 2012: Philadelphia police officer Donald Rider wrongfully shot unarmed Vincent Hall, according to Hall’s lawsuit that was settled for $850,000.[167]
  • 2012: Philadelphia police officer Cyrus Mann wrongfully shot unarmed Hassan Pratt three times in the torso, according to Pratt’s lawsuit that was settled for $465,000.[168]
  • 2012: a Philadelphia policewoman wrongfully and fatally shot unarmed Thomas Hennelly, according to his family’s lawsuit that was settled for $325,000.[169]
  • 2012: Philadelphia police officer Kevin Robinson brutally assaulted, seriously injured and falsely arrested Darren Trammell, according to Trammell’s lawsuit that was settled for $125,000.[170]
  • 2012: Two Philadelphia police officers brutally beat, seriously injured and falsely arrested Rodney Handy, according to Handy’s lawsuit that was settled out of court for $85,000.[171][172]
  • 2012: Officer Nicole Murphy brutalized handcuffed Thomas Jason Smith by stunning him three times with a stun gun. As a result, Murphy was fired from the police force in Millvale, a suburb of Pittsburgh, and convicted in federal court of civil rights violations.[173]
  • 2013: a Philadelphia police officer wrongfully shot Jonathan Pickett while he was sitting in the back of a police vehicle, according to his lawsuit that was settled for $1.25 million.[174]
  • 2013: Philadelphia police officers Kevin Robinson and Sean McNight knocked the victim Najee Rivera off his fleeing ATV after they struck him in the head with a baton and hit his ATV with their car while both vehicles were moving. The officers then further beat Rivera, causing severe injuries including permanent vision damage. He was cleared of wrongdoing and received a $200,000 lawsuit settlement. In 2015, Robinson and McKnight were fired (via a 30-day suspension process) and charged with aggravated assault and conspiracy over the incident.[175][176]
  • 2014: six Philadelphia policemen were arrested by federal authorities on corruption and brutality charges. The officers, Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, and John Speiser, were also fired (via a 30-day suspension process.) The six cops allegedly beat, robbed, and framed suspects. Prior to their arrests, the city had already paid over $1 million to settle misconduct lawsuits against them.[177][178][179][180]
  • 2014: Allentown police officer Ryan Alles was fired in 2015 for allegedly feloniously assaulting and injuring two male suspects in separate 2014 incidents. Alles had mistaken one of the men for an armed robber.[181]
  • 2015: On March 23, 2015, a U.S. Department of Justice report on Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) shootings was released. The report recommended that the PPD change its training and policies on the use of deadly force by its officers. The report noted that “Incidents involving discourtesy, use of force, and allegations of bias by [PPD] officers leave segments of the community feeling disenfranchised and distrustful of the [PPD]…”. Many of the report’s findings about police misconduct (mainly brutality) corroborated prior community criticism, independent audits and allegations made in misconduct lawsuits that were victorious or settled out of court. The report said “…our assessment uncovered policy, training, and operational deficiencies in addition to an undercurrent of significant strife between the community and department.”[182][183]

South Carolina

  • February 8, 1968: TheOrangeburg massacre was an incident in which nine South Carolina Highway Patrol officers in Orangeburg, South Carolina, fired into an aggravated but unarmed mob protesting local segregation at a bowling alley, hitting most of them in their backs. Three men were killed and twenty-eight more injured. After the shooting stopped, two others were injured by police in the aftermath and one, a pregnant woman, later had a miscarriage due to the beating.[184]
  • November 5, 2003: Police executed a raid atStratford High School, forcing students as young as 14 to the ground at gunpoint while drug dogs searched their schoolbags.[185] In July 2006, a settlement of $1.6 million was reached in an ACLU-initiated lawsuit charging police and school officials with violating the students’ right to be free from unlawful search and seizure and use of excessive force.[186]
  • May 2011: InEutawville, Bernard Bailey, 54, was shot and killed by police chief Richard Combs during a scuffle over Bailey’s daughter’s traffic ticket. In April 2014, Bailey’s family was awarded $400,000 in a civil suit settlement against the town. In December 2014, Combs was indicted on the charge of murder.[187][188]
  • April 2013: InMarion, mentally disabled 40-year-old Melissa Davis was stopped when walking from one house to another. Officers Franklin Brown and Eric Walters unnecessarily shocked her 8 times with a taser, even after she was already in handcuffs. On April 27, 2015, both were sentenced to over a year in prison (Brown to 18 months) after pleading guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law. As of that time, a civil suit was still pending.[189]
  • September 3, 2014: InColumbia, 35-year-old Levar Jones was wounded after being shot once and missed three times by Trooper Sean Groubert. Groubert stopped Jones for a seatbelt violation and asked Jones for his driver’s license. After Jones walked to his car to retrieve his license, Groubert fired four shots at Jones, with at least one of the rounds being fired as Jones raised his hands in the air. Later that month, Groubert was fired from his job and charged with assault and battery of high nature. In February 2015, Jones was awarded $250,000 from a lawsuit settlement.[190]
  • April 4, 2015: North Charleston policeman Michael Slager shot unarmedWalter Scott, who was fleeing from a traffic stop, eight times in the back, killing him. As a result, Slager was fired and charged with murder. The incident was captured on video and has garnered international publicity.[191][192]


  • May 5, 1977:Joe Campos Torres, a 23-year-old Vietnam Veteran had been arrested by Houston police at an Eastside bar for disorderly conduct. Six police officers took Torres to a spot called “The Hole” next to Buffalo Bayou and beat him.[193] The officers then took Torres to the city jail, where they were ordered to take him to the hospital. Instead of taking Torres to the hospital like they were told, the officers brought him back to the banks of Buffalo Bayou, where he was pushed into the water. Torres’ body was found two days later. Two of the officers involved were tried on state murder charges. They were convicted of negligent homicide and got one yearprobation and fined $1.[194] The two, and another officer were later convicted of federal civil rights violations. They served nine months in prison.


  • May 30, 2006:Otto Zehm was beaten to death by Spokane police officers after he was falsely reported to be stealing from an ATM. He was hit multiple times from behind by a baton, tasered,hog-tied and left on his stomach. He was transported to a hospital, where he was pronouncedbrain-dead and died two days later. None of the officers were disciplined for Zehm’s death. In July 2009, Karl F. Thompson, Jr., the first officer on the scene, was charged with excessive force and falsifying a report.[195] On November 2, 2011, the officer was found guilty on the two counts: excessive force and lying to investigators about the confrontation that led to Zehm’s death.[196]


  • October 24, 2004:Frank Jude, Jr. was beaten at a house party while unarmed by three off-dutyMilwaukee police officers, Andrew Spengler, Jon Bartlett, and Daniel Masarik. Several other officers, including one on-duty officer, took part in the beating. Jude’s three friends were also assaulted by the officers, including two women who were pushed by the officers for calling 911 on them. All the officers were charged but acquitted by the state court.[197] However, the three officers were later convicted on civil rights violations and assault in federal court. Other officers pled guilty to lesser charges of violating Jude’s civil rights. One officer was acquitted of all charges.[198] Bartlett was sentenced to 17 years, and Spengler and Masarik were sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. The other officers were sentenced from one year to four years in prison.


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