WASHINGTON, DC – The National Bar Association (NBA), the largest African American Bar Association in the United States, is calling for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo., and the recent death of 42 year-old Eric Garner, who died from a chokehold allegedly used by a member of the New York Police Department while Garner was in police custody.
Witnesses in the Staten Island and Ferguson cases accuse police of using unjustified and excessive force.
"We will not tolerate another person being victimized by someone whose job is to protect and serve,” said Pamela Meanes, President of the NBA. “We will and must be the voice of the voiceless."
Meanes and NBA leadership have joined the St. Louis County Chapter of the NAACP in calling for full and independent federal investigations into each case.
"It is imperative that we find out precisely what happened and why, so that if police acted inappropriately, justice can be served and the African American community's faith in law enforcement can be strengthened," Meanes said.
"The police can and should play an important role in all communities, but that role must be based on transparency and trust. Depending upon the outcomes of the investigations, incidents such as those in Staten Island and in Ferguson undermine that trust."
The NBA is calling upon the United States Department of Justice to look into the high number of shootings that have taken place in Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. Currently, the City of San Antonio has a practice of not releasing copies of autopsy reports in such shootings, causing many to question the city's investigation process. With these and other similar trends in mind, the NBA says it firmly believes that whenever there is a shooting involving a police officer, an outside agency must be called in to handle the subsequent investigation in the interest of fairness and transparency.
According to a news release, the NBA “fears that with no immediate intervention the situation will worsen.”
After the NBA conducted a Town Hall Meeting on Police Brutality during its annual convention in Atlanta, it decided to send an open records request to the largest 25 cities in the United States seeking information regarding the number of unarmed individuals who have been killed and/or injured while pursued or in police custody. The NBA will submit the results to the Department of Justice and “demand investigations be launched to put an end to any wrongful conduct.”
Part II of the Town Hall meeting is scheduled for Tuesday (August 12).
(Founded in 1925, the National Bar Association is the nation’s oldest and largest national network of minority attorneys and judges. It represents approximately 20,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students and has over 80 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and around the world. For additional information, visit: www.nationalbar.org.)