The US Justice Department Office of Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) [official website] has found that the response by the Ferguson, Missouri police department escalated riots after Michael Brown’s death last summer. The findings were in a draft report [St. Louis Dispatch report] obtained by the St. Louis Dispatch Tuesday. The report says that the officers inappropriate use of dogs, snipers, tear gas, and other tactical vehicles designed to the military ended up producing a very negative public reaction and lead to an escalation of the situation. The report also suggests that the authorities caused the situation to worsen when they did not quickly divulge details of Brown’s death. The COPS office is continuing the investigation the Ferguson Police’s response to the first 17 days after the fatal police shooting and the official report is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
Racial tension has recently mounted in the US following several police killings of unarmed black men. In June Amnesty International [advocacy website] said [JURIST report] that all 50 US states fall below international standards on police use of lethal force. In January Judge Edgar Dickson of the South Carolina Circuit Court declared a mistrial [JURIST report] in the murder case against a former police chief for the 2011 killing of an unarmed black man. After a grand jury decided not to indict [JURIST report] the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who last year shot and killed Micheal Brown [USA Today Timeline], an African American teenager, there was a large uproar from the Ferguson community that led to mass protests and violence in some instances. The case had reached international news with AI reporting [JURIST report] human rights abuses by Ferguson Police in late October. In early October a federal judge ruled [JURIST report] that the police tactics used on protesters was unconstitutional and issued a preliminary injunction. The American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] also published a report [JURIST report] arguing that increased militarization of police forces is putting citizens at risk rather than protecting them.