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The Seattle Police Department has agreed to reforms designed to curb use of excessive force by its officers.
The Seattle Police Department has reached an agreement with the US Justice Department on a set of reforms designed to curb use of excessive force by the city’s police officers, CNN reported.
Justice Department lawyers had promised to sue the city if the police department could not make a deal by July 31, the Associated Press reported.
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The ACLU and other community groups had called for an investigation of Seattle police practices in 2010 after a police officer shot and killed a Native American totem carver named John T. Williams who was walking down a street with a piece of wood and small knife, CNN reported. Video from the patrol car showed the officer shouting three times for Williams to drop the knife, then firing five shots, the AP reported.
Other surveillance and police-car video had recorded officers stomping on a Latino man who was mistaken for a robbery suspect and kicking a non-resisting young African American man in a store, the AP reported.
Justice Department investigators determined that force was used unconstitutionally one out of every five times Seattle officers used it, according to the AP.
The Seattle Police Department has agreed to have a federal court-appointed monitor resolve disputes over the next several years, CNN reported. It will also revise its use of force policies, improve training, reporting, investigation and supervision for situations in which force is used and create a civilian oversight body, the AP reported.
According to CNN:
The Seattle settlement comes just days after the Justice Department announced a much broader deal with the City of New Orleans to try to root out deep-seated corruption in that city's police department.
The Justice Department Civil Rights Division is currently investigating 15 other police departments, the largest of which is Puerto Rico, for "pattern or practice" problems, CNN reported.