At one time, California law enforcement agencies conducted internal affairs investigations without worry that the public would become privy to the police misconduct that such investigations often reveal. But times are changing. With landmark transparency laws recently passed in the state under Senate Bill 1421, police agencies must now publicly disclose internal investigation records. This means that the public is poised to hear the nitty gritty about investigations conducted within the department itself, such as lying by law enforcement and accusations of sexual assault as well as the truth about police shootings.
The union representing LAPD officers requested last month that records of incidents occurring prior to the implementation of the new law on Jan. 1, 2019, be barred from release. A judge declined that request, determining instead that the law as written applies not just to cases going forward, but also to all records, no matter when the incidents were investigated. The California Supreme Court turned down the union’s appeal to be heard.
The passage of SB 1421 marks a victory in the debate over how police officers interact with the communities they serve, particularly when it comes to inappropriate use of force.
Since the ruling, the LAPD has released some incredible reports of internal investigations, including one report detailing the 2017 killing of a man in Wilmington who was gunned down by police. The man was holding a toy gun. After he was shot, he was subsequently run over by a squad car. Other reports of sexual misconduct, texting photos of genitalia on department cell phones, and giving false statements later debunked by dash cam footage have surfaced following the enactment of SB 1421.
This new law is considered a win for victims of police misconduct, and its passage is meant to curb the abuses that so many times stem from it. People who are placed under arrest have the same rights that they did prior to being detained. But all too many times, police officers opt to stomp on those rights. This is a serious problem that can leave the victim feeling helpless and afraid, unsure of what to do next. If you have been a victim of abuse or had your rights infringed by a law enforcement officer, contact JML Law and our Los Angeles police misconduct attorneys now. We can help.
Police misconduct is a criminally prosecutable defense, but in many instances, it is also a matter for civil court. Knowing that an officer was reprimanded for his or her actions can help improve the victim’s argument for a civil judgment. Some instances of police misconduct that can lead to a civil award can include:
Oftentimes, plaintiffs in these cases have spent time in jail or even in prison as a result of police misconduct. In others, they have lost property and had their reputations irreversibly soiled. If you or someone you love have experienced inappropriate action at the hands of law enforcement, let JML Law and our Los Angeles police misconduct attorneys know right away. Give us a call at 818-610-8800 now to schedule your free confidential case evaluation.