ACLU of Colorado Praises Swift Investigation in Car-Chase Beating

Affiliate: ACLU of Colorado
August 26, 1999 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Colorado
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DENVER–One week after news channels aired video footage of Denver police beating suspects in a car chase, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado praised the swift response by city officials.

The ACLU had called for an investigation of possible police misconduct immediately following the incident. Today, they applauded the Denver Police Department and welcomed the intervention of Mayor Wellington Webb, saying that an internal affairs investigation is underway and is expected to be completed by next week.

“It is heartening that the mayor and chief of police are taking the matter seriously,” said Michele Parish, Acting Executive Director of the ACLU of Colorado.

“We urge city officials to share the results of this investigation with the public immediately,” she added. “As citizens, we entrust the police with tremendous power. In return, the police must hold themselves to account when incidents such as this occur.”

Parish also encouraged Internal Affairs officials to investigate whether the alleged brutality was influenced by racism on the part of police officers.

“The videotape of the incident was extremely disturbing,” she said. “The fact is, the police often treat Hispanics and African Americans more harshly than whites,” Parish said. “The possible influence of racism in the decision to conduct a dangerous high-speed chase and on the actions of officers while taking suspects into custody needs to be part of the investigation.”

The ACLU in Colorado and local ACLU offices around the country are working for law enforcement reform through community coalitions to create civilian review boards, through challenges to the misuse of specific police tools like high-speed pursuit and police dog units, and by representing victims of excessive police force or misconduct.

The ACLU is also distributing a “bust card” to inform citizens about their rights during a police encounter. The wallet-sized card, which anyone can download free of charge, summarizes what every citizen should know in case they are stopped by the police for questioning, pulled over on the road, searched, or arrested. The card is available online at: /library/bustcard.html or through local ACLU offices.

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