American Civil Liberties Union's statement on Department of Justice findings in Miami police-involved shootings

MIAMI - The American Civil Liberties Union released statements (below) about the Department of Justice's findings following an investigation into the Miami Police Department after officers fatally shot seven black men during an eight-month period.

Howard Simon, Executive Director, ACLU of Florida: "The findings of the investigation mean that the weight of the United States government now backs the allegations that groups like the ACLU have been saying about the Miami Police Department. We are not surprised that the Department of Justice found that there is a pattern of excessive use of force. But as significant as these findings are, ultimately, someone needs to be held responsible for the deaths and the violation of constitutional rights.

We need to recognize the limited role of this investigation: it was a civil investigation, not criminal; it investigated the pattern and practices of the Police Department, not the conduct of any named police officers. People's rights have been violated and lives have been unjustly taken. Now that the groundwork has been laid by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, we expect a follow-up investigation into the conduct of Miami Police Department officers who were responsible. Finding out whether there are officers who can be held responsible is necessary if the people's trust in the police who are sworn to protect them is going to be restored. "

Jeanne Baker, Chair of the Police Practices Committee of the Greater Miami Chapter of the ACLU of Florida: "The findings of this investigation are a crucial step in restoring the community's trust in its police department, but it is far from the final step. Credit goes to Mayor Tomas Regalado who, along with Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and other community groups like the ACLU, called for an investigation into his own city's police department. The Justice Department was able to arrive at conclusions that the city's internal mechanisms – including the Civilian Investigative Panel - have proven inadequate to find: that the City of Miami Police Department has been violating the Constitutional rights of its citizens. The U.S. Department of Justice did what our own Civilian Investigative Panel could have and should have done – investigate the policies and practices of the police department that led to the fatal shootings of Miami citizens."

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