The Second Wave of Civil Rights Movement in the United States continues to advance with the proliferation of cell phone videos, police car dash-cams, and recording devices worn by officers. With these images there’s no denying that police misconduct has hit epidemic proportions.
The legal team at Kennedy Kennedy & Ives understands that this epidemic expands beyond, and is far more penetrating, than what’s portrayed through viral images. What’s not seen is the long-term devastation to individual lives when police officers, their supervisors, and in some cases the culture of an entire police force, fails to uphold their legal and moral responsibilities.
Our client Diana Guerrero, who was sexually assaulted by a police officer while participating in an internship program for high school students, describes the lasting impact of the betrayal:
“…anytime I see or hear anything to do with a badge or law enforcement, I find my heart racing, shaking, sweating, crying, with all the flashbacks to that horrible day in that unmarked police vehicle. I usually have to remove myself into a safer-feeling location to regain my composure.”*
This betrayal and fear doesn’t remain with the individual victim; it permeates entire communities over multiple generations. This is expressed by Annelle Wharton, mother of Kenneth Ellis III, a decorated Iraqi War Veteran unlawfully shot and killed by police:
“We used to tell our kids the police were here to keep us safe. But now, none of us feels safe.”**
Diana and Annelle’s sentiments are why we don’t stop at justice for individuals.
We understand that many police officers lack the training and professional environment to fulfill their responsibilities with integrity. Our goal is that our clients’ cases ultimately result in policy changes that ensure officers are properly trained to the highest ethical standards. In the case of Kenneth Ellis III, his sister, in partnership with the VA Hospital where he’d been treated, lobbied for legislative changes that resulted in mandatory crisis intervention and de-escalation training for police officers across the state of New Mexico. In the case of our client James Boyd, a homeless man shot and killed for illegal camping, our suit detailed seventeen demands for policy change, including mandatory crisis intervention training and an end to hiring of officers fired from other police agencies.
To learn more about Kennedy Kennedy & Ives’ police misconduct cases, please go to our blog:The Second Wave.
*Excerpted from the letter Diana read in court. The full text can be found here.
**Albuquerque Police Face Federal Scrutiny, Local Outrage. National Public Radio. 5/22/14