ACLU Praises Federal Convictions of Police Officers in Beating Death of New Jersey Man
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEWARK, NJ–The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey today praised the verdict in a federal lawsuit against five Orange City police officers convicted of conspiring to deprive Earl Faison of his civil rights when he was killed in police custody on April 19, 1999.
“An innocent man was killed by the very people responsible for protecting him. We are pleased that the jury appropriately blamed the officers who beat, kicked and pepper-sprayed Mr. Faison,” said Deborah Jacobs, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Jersey.
“However,” she added, “it is a shame that New Jersey officials refused to hold their officers criminally responsible. Until the New Jersey shares its citizens’ commitment to fair and humane policing, and holds police who commit criminal acts criminally responsible, we will continue to see racism and abuse in New Jersey’s police practices.”
The ACLU of New Jersey, which is currently challenging the practice of racial profiling on the New Jersey Turnpike in a class-action lawsuit against the state, has continually expressed frustration that officials consistently deny allegations of racism and abuse by police until their own records prove otherwise.
Even with the release of law enforcement documents that prove allegations of racism and abuse by police, the state’s leadership does not express outrage at the suffering of innocent people at the hands of police, the ACLU said.
“There is little evidence that the state values police professionalism. Not only do officials fail to consider serious reforms, but they rarely acknowledge a problem that has been brought to their attention by the people of New Jersey or even by police officers themselves,” said Jacobs.
The ACLU of New Jersey last year proposed a 10-point plan to improve policing in New Jersey, which includes forming a citizen review panel, providing greater training opportunities for police, and engaging outside auditors to review police practices are necessary to ensure the safety and equal treatment of people in New Jersey.
“Why do we have to wait for the federal government, which has resources to file civil charges in only the most egregious cases, to come in and hold New Jersey police officers responsible for such crimes?” asked Jacobs. “Why isn’t the state taking the lead to ensure police professionalism and the safety of those who have interactions with police?”
The ACLU has urged New Jersey Attorney General John Farmer to take the lead in holding police responsible for criminal acts. However, when the ACLU wrote to the Attorney General in August requesting an explanation for the state’s failure to bring criminal charges against the officers who killed Earl Faison, Farmer claimed that he did not have sufficient evidence for criminal charges. Farmer made this claim despite the fact that he knew of the same allegations that ultimately formed the grounds for the federal convictions, Jacobs said.
Jacobs added that the ACLU of New Jersey does not support further criminal charges for the officers who murdered Faison at this stage because trying the officers a second time in a different jurisdiction would constitute a violation of the constitutional principle of double jeopardy which should prohibit people from being tried twice for the same crime.
The ACLU of New Jersey’s 10-point plan is online at http://www.aclu-nj.org.
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The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.
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