Apr 20, 2015 12:33 PM
Developments in tensions between police and communities
The Associated Press
Killings of suspects by police officers in the past year have touched off a national debate about police conduct, which has only escalated as additional interactions between police and suspects lethal or otherwise are captured on video by law enforcement or civilians. Here are some recent developments.
FEDS TO INVESTIGATE DEATH OF BALTIMORE MAN IN POLICE CUSTODY
The U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday it has opened an investigation into the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray, whose spine was nearly severed while in police custody.
A vigil was planned for Tuesday evening where he was arrested April 12.
Gray, 25, died Sunday. Court records show he suffered a medical emergency while being taken to the police station in a van and was rushed to the hospital. The officers involved have been placed on leave.
Civilian and police video show Gray being loaded into the van, but not the entire encounter.
Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said federal investigators will look for evidence of whether an officer willfully violated Gray's civil rights by using unreasonable force.
Baltimore officials released a plan six months ago to reduce police brutality and misconduct, which followed a request by city officials to the Justice Department to review police policies and procedures.
OKLAHOMA RESERVE DEPUTY PLEADS NOT GUILTY
A 73-year-old volunteer reserve deputy who fatally shot a suspect who was pinned down by officers pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a second-degree manslaughter charge.
Robert Bates declined to comment before he made his initial court appearance in Tulsa district court. His next court date is July 2.
The Tulsa County volunteer has said he shot Eric Harris on April 2 after confusing his stun gun and handgun. Harris, 44, died after running from a sting operation involving gun sales. Bates was charged after the sheriff's office released video of the shooting in which he is overheard apologizing for shooting Harris.
Sheriff Stanley Glanz said Bates was properly trained and passed firearms certifications. Harris' family lawyer, Dan Smolen, said the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office violated a number of its policies by letting Bates carry his personal handgun after training at the range on another weapon.
EX-ALABAMA OFFICER PLEADS NOT GUILTY IN CONFRONTATION WITH INDIAN GRANDFATHER
A former Alabama police officer pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a federal charge of violating the rights of an Indian grandfather injured during a confrontation a few months ago.
Eric Sloan Parker, 26, is accused of using unreasonable force in February against 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel, who was walking in suburban Madison where he was visiting family when a resident called police about a suspicious man.
Police video captured images of an officer slamming Patel to the ground face-first. Patel is still recovering from injuries.
Parker made a brief appearance before a judge in Huntsville and is free on a $5,000 bond before a scheduled June 1 trial. He also faces a state assault charge.
DETROIT-AREA OFFICER MAKES INITIAL COURT APPEARANCE ON ASSAULT CHARGE
A judge entered a not guilty plea on Tuesday for a Detroit-area police officer charged in the beating of a motorist that was caught on video.
William Melendez appeared in Inkster District Court a day after the charges of mistreatment of a prisoner and assault both felonies were announced in the Jan. 28 traffic stop.
Floyd Dent, 57, was hauled out of his car and repeatedly punched in the head, leaving him bloodied. Prosecutors say they didn't know about the beating until a TV station aired dashcam video of the arrest in March.
The 46-year-old Melendez, whose bond is $25,000, is a former Detroit officer and has now been fired as an officer in Inkster and Highland Park.
MAN CHARGED WITH DISORDERLY CONDUCT FOR THREATENING CLEVELAND OFFICER
The brother of an unarmed woman killed in police gunfire after a 2012 high-speed chase was charged Monday with disorderly conduct after reportedly making a death threat against the Cleveland officer standing trial.
A court security guard reported 35-year-old Alfredo Williams said outside of the courtroom last week that he'd kill officer Michael Brelo if he wasn't convicted of manslaughter.
Prosecutors say Brelo, 31, fired his last 15 rounds after the car stopped moving and Timothy Russell and Alfredo Williams' sister, Malissa Williams, were no longer a threat.
PENNSYLVANIA JUDGE CONSIDERS RELEASING VIDEO OF OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING
A judge refused to rule Tuesday whether Pennsylvania prosecutors can release video that authorities say shows a police officer fatally shooting an unarmed man in the back.
Dauphin County Judge Deborah Curcillo rejected a request by the lawyer for Hummelstown Police Officer Lisa Mearkle, 36, who's charged with criminal homicide.
The judge said it was premature to issue such an order because prosecutors had not advocated making it public prior to the officer's trial. Curcillo said she plans to schedule another hearing if prosecutors say they intend to do so.
Defense lawyer Brian Perry argued the video was likely to affect potential jurors and would present a partial and misleading impression of the events that caused the death of 59-year-old motorist David Kassick in early February. Both Mearkle and Kassick were white.