A new bill authored by Assemblyman Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood), and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, will give citizens new authority against police who abuse their power.
According to reports, Assembly Bill 2634 allows a victim whose civil rights have been violated by police to seek injunctive relief. The bill gives courts greater authority to issue injunctions against police departments that have a history of civil rights violations.
Bradford said his bill provides an individual the legal right to ask the court to order law enforcement to discontinue the acts that resulted in the violation of rights, if the acts are determined to be part of a pattern or practice. The injunction would then apply across a department, to all individuals, regardless if they were parties in the initial case.
Motivated by high profile cases such as Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and locally, Marlene Pinnock, a homeless woman punched in the face by a California Highway Patrol officer on the Santa Monica (10) Freeway (both unarmed), Bradford’s bill would put power into the hands of victims.
“The number of disturbing cases we have seen around the country of officers abusing departmentally approved tactics like pepper spray, chokeholds or other force, makes me cringe,” Bradford said. “Placing an asthmatic man in a chokehold in Staten Island, or punching a mentally ill woman in the face on a Southern California freeway — these are approved uses of force that desperately need review by an independent court.”
Last month, protestors gathered in Leimert Park to draw attention to incidents involving Brown, Pinnock, and most recently Ezell Ford, a man shot and killed by LAPD officers after allegedly struggling with police. Pinnock made a public appearance during the rally, which demanded District Attorney Jackie Lacey to file charges against Daniel Andrew, the officer who beat her.
“The activists and civil rights leaders will not just sit quietly and wait for [Lacy’s] decision,” Najee Ali, political director of the L.A. chapter of the National Action Network, told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re going to be in the streets demanding Ms. Pinnock gets justice.”
Andrew has been stripped of his duties and placed on administrative leave. The CHP has investigated the case and turned over its findings to the DA's office. Pinnock has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officer and CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow.
“By giving the courts the authority to review departmental practices, we can implement a check on dangerous and unconstitutional behavior,” Bradford said. “I admire our police officers and the work they do keeping our communities safe. But residents should not fear their officers, and victims of excessive force should have an avenue they can take to prevent more people from becoming victims.”