|Desiree Sison |||Sep 25, 2014 05:19 AM EDT|
(Photo : Reuters) The U.S. Justice Department has started its investigation on the Ferguson Police for brutality and use of excessive force on the residents
The U.S. Justice Department has started its investigation into reported police brutality and use of excessive force by Ferguson police on residents following the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer identified as Darren Wilson last month.
The Justice Department Civil Rights Division has initiated a meeting, as part of their investigation, with Ferguson residents and has set up a room in a St. Louis community college where the residents can share their concerns regarding the police department.
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More than 300 people who live in or near Ferguson crammed into the room and narrated their experiences with the police.
The Civil Rights Division investigators were seeking direct information from these residents to help the investigators resolve issues between the police force and the residents.
Christy Lopez, deputy counsel of the Civil Rights Division, said that they have set up the meeting to figure out if a misconduct is happening, if there is a pattern, if there is a violation of the Constitution, and, most importantly, how fix these issues.
Reports allege that stories of police harassment and brutality were narrated by the residents to the Civil Rights Division investigators.
A former Ferguson resident, Brandon Smith, 28, told investigators that he moved away from Ferguson four years ago, claiming he was constantly harassed by the police. In one incident, he said the police officer cited him for "manner of walking in roadway" and was jailed on $1000 bond. He said he posted bond but the money was never returned to him.
Yolanda Lanns, 43, narrated an incident in which she and her husband were at a store when a disturbance broke out. When the police officers arrived, Lanns claimed they immediately assumed her husband was part of the fight "because he was black" and used a stun gun on him three times before taking him to jail.
A mother of three adult sons, Joyce Washington, 55, of neighboring Cool Valley, said her sons have been repeatedly pulled over in Ferguson all because "they are young, black men."
Washington said after those incidents, they don't drive through Ferguson anymore and are taking alternative routes to get to their destinations.
Ferguson has 21,000 residents, two-thirds of which are African-American. The Ferguson police have 53 police officers and only 3 of them are black.
The investigation will focus on whether the Ferguson police use excessive force on residents, violate their Constitutional rights by traffic stops and arrests, and engage in other discriminatory practices.
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