Ferguson police racist, deployed dogs on African Americans: Report

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Mar 05, 2015 11:42 IST

Setting dogs upon African Americans, some as old as 14, was among many forms of racism found rampant in the police of Ferguson, city rocked by the killing of Michael Brown.

Officers singled out African Americans for law enforcement actions, and, mostly, to generate revenue, with officers rushing to meet targets, and beat competition.

Ferguson police came under Department of Justice scrutiny for suspected civil rights violations after the killing of Michael Brown, an African American teen, by a white police officer.

US attorney general Eric Holder released findings of that probe on Wednesday describing Ferguson as a community “under siege by those charged to serve and protect them”.

Holder, the first African American to hold the post of attorney general, detailed many examples of targeting, excessive force, and rampant disregard of constitutional rights.

And police dogs, the most shocking of them all. The attorney general said the “use of dogs by Ferguson police appears to have been exclusively reserved for African Americans”.

The top judicial official of the United States added that “in every case in which Ferguson police records recorded the race of a person bit by a police dog, that person was African American”.

Here are a few instances cited in the report.

In December 2011, four officer, including a canine officer, reached an abandoned house responding to an emergency call about an ordinary home intrusion.

After arresting a boy on ground level, canine officer’s dog located another a second boy hiding in a closet under the stairs in the basement. The officer found the boy curled up.

“According to the officer, the boy would not show his hands despite being warned that the officer would use the dog, said the department of justice report.

“The officer then deployed the dog, which bit the boy’s arm, causing puncture wounds.” But that was the police version, which didn’t track with the victim’s.

The by told the federal investigator that he was indeed in the house, waiting forces friend, when he heard some noise at the front door. Thinking it was his friends, he walked up.

“When he saw the dog at the top of the steps, he turned to run, but the dog quickly bit him on the ankle and then the thigh, causing him to fall to the floor.”

The report listed few other such incidents. “There is a recurring pattern of officers claiming they had to use a canine to extract a suspect hiding in a closed space,” said the report.

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