The Justice Department said on Thursday that three Alabama police officers failed to follow department guidelines on handcuffing and restraining an American teen during an arrest.
“Even after some of the officers learned that [Jamar] Boyd was a Tuscaloosa City High School student, they still handcuffed and detained him and placed a loaded firearm in his hand,” said Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.
In 2015, Tuscaloosa police officers J.R. Williams, William D. Croxford and A.G. Williams arrested Tuscaloosa High School student Jamar Boyd for allegedly being an accessory to the murder of Deiondra Y. Hicks and Fred Frazier. Mr. Boyd, 18, was handcuffed from behind and placed on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back while another officer picked up a handgun from Mr. Boyd’s hands. When the same officer searched Mr. Boyd, he found a bullet from a handgun on him.
According to the police reports and the incident report, the officers described the arrest as “minor,” but the Justice Department disagreed, saying Mr. Boyd was “taken to the ground, handcuffed, and subjected to nearly 22 seconds of restraint.”
“The evidence in this case shows that the Tuscaloosa Police Department failed to train and supervise its officers appropriately, failed to investigate complaints against officers, failed to hold officers accountable for violating the constitutional rights of Tuscaloosa citizens, and failed to exercise the type of continuous, on-the-ground, and in-person oversight of its officers that is required to be effective in a constitutional police force,” Ms. Gupta said.
The report found that the officers used “excessive force to subdue Boyd, including the use of knee strikes in his neck and head, bench presses, standing knee strikes to the back of his head, and face lift to the point that Boyd almost broke his jaw.”
Mr. Boyd was later released without charge.
The department’s Equal Employment Opportunity director, Michael Finney, said that the officers agreed to stop arresting teenagers on top of or next to them until they are no longer juveniles. The police department also agreed to change its use-of-force policy and start requiring officers to take 10 hours of training on arresting juveniles, as well as enforcing the use-of-force policy and record investigations.
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