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Police Officers Rarely Charged for Excessive Use of Force in Federal Court

“Despite growing popular unrest and media attention in recent years over excessive use of force by police officers, the latest available case-by-case data show that federal prosecutors rarely bring relevant criminal charges known as “deprivation of rights under the color of law” (18 U.S.C. 242) against law enforcement. In the first seven months of FY 2020, federal prosecutors filed § 242 charges in just 27 cases. In April 2020, just a month before the death of George Floyd sparked civil unrest, federal prosecutors did not report prosecuting a single case with § 242 as the lead charge. Results reported here are based upon referral-by-referral government records analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. TRAC obtained these records after lengthy litigation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)…”

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