Attorney's "jaw-dropping" account of how US police get away with brutality

5 June 2020, 15:05 | Updated: 5 June 2020, 15:09

US prosecutor's remarkable account of how police get away with brutality

This attorney who specialises in prosecuting police brutality called James O'Brien to reveal how the system is set up to allow them to get away with it.

As protests rage in the US over the death of George Floyd after a police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes, a video emerged of a man being seriously injured after being shoved by an officer in Buffalo.

Theresa called in to explain how the problem is ingrained in the entire system in the USA.

Speaking to James O'Brien, she said: "You asked how police can act like this with impunity. They also act with immunity.

"What happens is the prosecuting authority, the District Attorney, doesn't indite these people, they don't charge them.

"The police go out and they murder and they commit mayhem and they maim. And they get away with it because they're not charged.

"Whereas if they prosecuting authorities would step in and say you're going to face a jury and you're going to go to jail, maybe there would be change. But they don't do that because they don't want to put their political career in jeopardy.

"The police have very strong unions here. Where I live, there are 1,100 officers and they all have friends and relatives who vote. If you indite a cop for murder, you've got 1,100 families voting against you. It's systemic."

James O'Brien's call with a former US prosector was so eye-opening
James O'Brien's call with a former US prosector was so eye-opening. Picture: PA / LBC

She noted a case in Albuquerque, New Mexico in which a shooting by police was caught on bodycam and the District Attorney only pressed charges because there was uproar about it.

"But she passed the case on to a Special Prosecutor, because she didn't want to take the heat. And the special prosecutor, in my opinion, literally threw that case."

Theresa noted that in Minnesota, the case of the murder of George Floyd has also been passed to a Special Prosecutor, rather than being handled locally.

"What we need is courageous District Attorneys willing to do their one term and get booted out, but do the right thing and let them know there's a new sheriff in town."

Buffalo police shove elderly man to the ground

She pointed out one other element where the system completely fails BAME and poor people.

"We're talking about how poor people are treated by the system and they are crushed by it.

"If they police poor neighbourhoods and arrest you, you don't have a good lawyer and you end up with a conviction, guess what: you're not going to vote and you're not going to be in the jury pool.

"So who's voting and who's on the jury pool? People who have no concept of how the police conduct themselves in those communities.

"When you bring them down for jury duty, they've read the paper, but that's owned by the local elites and aren't going to talk about police brutality because that's bad for business. So they really believe that if you've been arrested, you must have done something really wrong.

"Let me give you an example: there was a black guy who was brutally murdered by the police in Baltimore about four years ago. I think they beat him up, threw him in the back of the paddywagon and they cuffed him. The ride was so rough in the back of this metal wagon, that he ended up being jostled around the wagon and he died.

"The District Attorney had just been elected and she was black. And she charged those cops. It was such a beautiful thing to see - finally we have a prosecuting authority who is going to buck the system and buck the union.

"But guess what: not guilty, white jury."

Listeners labelled Theresa's call to James "jaw-dropping".

Watch her full call at the top of the page.

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