FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Ron Scott
May 20, 2004
Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality Calls 4th Precinct Acquittals “Abominable, Repugnant, and Deplorable”
To respond to today’s jury ruling in the Federal case brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office against eight of the eighteen indicted Detroit Police officers in the 4th Precinct accused of violating the Constitutional rights of citizens in the area, Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality spokesperson Ron Scott issued this statement on behalf of the Coalition and members of the community and supporting groups:
“The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality expresses its outrage and indignation over the acquittals of William Melendez, Matthew Zani, Jeffrey Weiss, Christopher Ruiz, Timothy Gilbert, Mark Diaz, Jerrod Willis, and Denny Borg. These officers have dishonored their oath by falsifying reports, abusing citizens, and disregarding the U.S. Constitution, and by all rights should never have the right to use their power over citizens again. Their acquittals reflect the strength of the constitutional rights they so cavalierly disregarded when applied to others.
The rationale expressed by some of the jurors reflects three of our community’s major problems: 1) the failure to have a balanced jury pool comprised of a true diverse citizenry; 2) the failure to hold police officers to the same standard expected of all other citizens; and 3) the failure of the drug war policy, as reflected in the belief that ‘if you let the cowboys ride herd on the dealers, then everyone will be safe.’ The opposite is true: when a group of rogue individuals with implied support from their superiors are allowed to make their own rules, everybody is in danger, as we have recently seen in Iraq.
It must be remembered that the violation of any citizen’s rights is a violation of all citizens’ rights. Regardless of where they are in the system, U.S. citizens must be treated in accordance with due process of law.
The Coalition is calling on all human rights groups, legal organizations, and other citizens who have been adversely affected by these eight officers and others to band together and challenge the City of Detroit administration, the Detroit Police Commission, and the U.S. Justice Department to continue their efforts to root out the kind of barbaric, medieval activities that these officers have visited upon our citizens.
The City of Detroit is about to complete its first year under a Federal Consent Decree. The acquittal of these officers, should it stand, sends a message to other officers who would behave in a similar manner that the reforms are null and void. The rights of citizens have been compromised, the safety of the community has been diminished, and the hope for change has been all but snuffed out.
Officers like Melendez, Borg, Weiss, and the others, should they ever go back on the street, undoubtedly will cost the citizens of the City of Detroit even more money in citizen complaints and lawsuits at a time of dire austerity. They have already caused disruption in the lives of countless individuals, and the drugs they contended they were out to stop are still flowing.
The Coalition is planning a major effort to make sure that this abominable situation never occurs again. Our faith in the courts and in the balance of jury scrutiny has been severely diminished. We will be mobilizing within the the several days against this appalling verdict, and to project a viewpoint that obviously was not present in the courtroom today: that the U.S. Constitution should be applied equally to all citizens.”