The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] began its review the San Francisco police department [official website] on Monday. The review was initiated [AP report] in the aftermath of the filmed shooting of Mario Woods, an African American male, by San Francisco policemen in December. After the video was released, hundreds of protestors gathered [LA Times report] last week demanding the resignation of Chief of Police Greg Suhr. The DOJ investigation was also prompted by homophobic and racists text messages exchanged among several San Francisco officers. The County of San Francisco Superior Court of California [official website] ruled in December that the officers could not be disciplined [AP report] for the messages, due to a statute of limitations for personnel investigations.
Police use of force has been a controversial issue across the US recently. The DOJ conducted a similar review of the use of police force in Chicago [JURIST report] in December. In November Chicago officer Jason Van Dyke was charged [JURIST report] with first-degree murder for the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014. City officials have been sharply criticized for waiting over one year since the incident to release the footage of the officer shooting the teenager and to bring charges against Van Dyke. In September Baltimore City Circuit Judge Barry Williams denied motions [JURIST report] to drop the charges against six police officers implicated in the case of Freddie Gray, a black man who was injured in police custody and died in April. Earlier last year 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 police officer who shot and killed Micheal Brown [USA Today timeline], there was a large uproar from the Ferguson community that led to mass protests and violence in some instances. The case received international attention when Amnesty International [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] human rights abuses by Ferguson police in late October. 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.