NAACP Shreveport requests DOJ investigation into SPD, several officers

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FILE – In this Nov. 28, 2018, file photo, the Department of Justice seal is seen in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTALA/KMSS) – The Shreveport chapter of the NAACP has formally requested the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the Shreveport Police Department and several of its officers in connection with police custody deaths and the use of excessive force.

“We write to express our deep concern about state of our beloved city and the lack of transparency within the Shreveport Police Department,” NAACP Shreveport began in a letter sent Friday to Eric Drieband, U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

Eric S. Dreiband currently serves as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice)

The letter lists a series of incidents involving officers since the beginning of the year, including the deaths of two men in April while in police custody. Tommie Dale McGlothen, 44, died early April 6, 2020 after he was taken into custody by Shreveport police. The Caddo Coroner ultimately ruled that McGlothen died of natural causes, but his death could possibly have been prevented.

Wavey Austin died April 19, also after being taken into custody by SPD officers. The coroner’s office determined that he died from cardiac arrhythmia secondary to febrile delirium.

In addition, the letter says, the city has averaged more than one homicide per week and that more than three dozen SPD Officers are on leave ranging from administrative to criminal. It notes that two officers have entered pleas in the last week from an altercation on Mother’s Day 2019, and that eight officers were indicted last week for malfeasance in office (excessive use of force); one of those officers was involved in an citizen death by gunshot a year ago, referencing the death of Anthony Childs, which was ultimately determined to have been self-inflicted by the coroner’s office.

For decades, the DOJ has used its authority to investigate individual officers and entire police departments who engaged in unlawful conduct that has harmed civilians. As a result, it has uncovered police violence and racially biased policing that communities of color have known about and experienced first-hand for years. The investigations have also offered reforms that have the potential to eradicate wrongful conduct and rebuild trust between police and the communities they serve.

We recognize that the resources available to the DOJ for these investigations are limited. But as our requests have amply demonstrated, your attention is urgently needed in the matters we identify in this letter. We remain available to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have regarding these requests. Please do not hesitate to contact, if we can be of any assistance in your deliberations.

NAACP Shreveport, in a July 17 letter to Eric Drieband, U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division

Shreveport Councilwoman LeVette Fuller (Dist. B) also called for an external investigation by the DOJ of the Shreveport Police Department earlier in the week, and the council passed the resolution to do so on Tuesday.

Shreveport Police Chief Ben Raymond released this statement.

“I welcome an investigation into the Shreveport Police Department and any ‘alleged patterns or practices of conduct by law enforcement officers…that deprive persons of rights, privileges or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States’.”

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