Jul 20, 2015
In early July, the City of Baltimore paid $200,000 as a settlement to a Defense Department employee. This man brought suit against a police officer for false arrest.
This settlement is just the latest to resolve charges of police misconduct, physical threats, beatings and murder brought against Baltimore police officers.
In 2014, Baltimore Sun reporters followed a paper trail to try to put together all the suits brought against Baltimore police since 2011. It wasn’t easy to find the information: The data on cases brought against police is not even kept in one central location. And the details of what happened in each case are shielded from public disclosure. But from what the reporters could piece together, it’s clear the city paid out close to six million dollars during this time to settle about 100 cases brought against the police. In addition, the city spent another six million on legal fees. More than 300 suits were filed against the police, many of them still pending.
This is only a fraction of the police misconduct and brutality during this time. Most people don’t have the means to sue the cops, or they don’t want to out of fear of retaliation. So there were surely thousands of incidents of brutality and misconduct during the years the Sun reporters researched.
The city never admits that the cops did anything wrong in settling these suits, even though they would never agree to settle them unless they knew the cops had done something wrong. The officers involved are not punished, and some of them go on to be charged again at a later date with misconduct or brutality.
In reality, these settlements are designed to make it possible for the city to continue encouraging the cops to use threats and brutality against hundreds of thousands of poor, mostly black, exploited and oppressed people – to try to force them to accept their situation.
No appeals to city officials to rein in the cops will change this. As the Freddy Gray case showed, nothing short of an uprising is necessary to even get some murdering cops indicted.