Outside group will review violent LAPD tactics used in recent protesters
The Los Angeles Police Commission willl get an outside review of how city police responded, sometimes violently, to widespread protests two months ago in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
Commissioners said Thursday they had successfully asked the National Police Foundation to look at the Los Angeles Police Department’s handling of the protests from May 29 to June 7.
The nonprofit research organization will not charge to examine LAPD’s “police tactics, deployment, command and control, and use of munitions” over those two weeks, the commission said in a statement.
“We want to understand everything that happened and why,” Commission President Eileen Decker said.
Videos of LAPD’s response to the protests show officers striking people with batons and firing tear gas, foam projectiles and rubber bullets – leaving some demonstrators bloodied or with even more serious injuries.
Activists have said police arrested bystanders, including homeless people, during sweeps after they declared protests unlawful assemblies and then kept many detained on buses for hours, some still tending to wounds.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the clearings and arrests were necessary after reports of assaults on officers and other violent behavior from protesters.
He said an intense confrontation in the Fairfax District, in the early days of the protests, was sparked when a police car with ammunition inside was set on fire, forcing commanders to move hundreds of demonstrators out of the area.
The chief said LAPD is conducting internal reviews over police uses of force during the protests.
The city faces a federal lawsuit, filed on behalf of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, over LAPD’s dispersal and arrest tactics. The complaint says First Amendment rights were violated when officers “used force to terminate the protests, including the indiscriminate use of so-called ‘less lethal’ weapons that caused injury.”
Actions taken by LAPD in 2007, amid the Occupy protests, and in 2000, against protesters at the Democratic National Convention, resulted in lawsuits that were settled for tens of millions of dollars.
The commission did not give a timeline for the review, and the National Police Foundation did not respond to a request for comment.
In the commission’s statement, Chief Moore said he supports the outside review, which “will allow us to gain valuable insights and perspective of what worked, what did not, and recommendations to improve our response in the future.”
The organization has written reviews to the police responses to the San Bernardino terrorist attack and the shootings by former LAPD Officer Christopher Dorner. The foundation’s founders helped author the Webster Commission’s recommendations following the 1992 L.A. Riots.
Decker said the National Police Foundation will determine whether recommendations from the Webster Commission are being followed today.
“We want honest assessments, unfiltered,” Decker said.
When the Webster Commission wrote its report on the 1992 Riots, researchers noted that the city had failed to adopt recommendations of an earlier report – the McCone report on the 1965 Watts riots.