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New report released by ACLU into excessive force by KCSO and BPD

Posted at 3:33 PM, Nov 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-09 22:49:17-05

The American Civil Liberties Union of California released a report Thursday, after conducting a two-year investigation into excessive force by Kern County Sheriff's Office and Bakersfield Police Department.

According to ACLU, "For many years, residents of Kern County have expressed concerns about excessive force and serious misconduct by the officers of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and Bakersfield Police Department."

The ACLU said through its investigation they found Bakersfield Police Department and Kern County Sheriff's Office both have a history of violating individuals civil rights.

"KCSO and BPD officers have engaged in patterns of excessive force—including shooting and beating to death unarmed individuals and deploying canines to attack and injure— as well as a practice of filing intimidating or retaliatory criminal charges against individuals they subject to excessive force," stated by ACLU.

The ACLU cites news articles, police and court records, community interviews and reports from the Department of Justice as the basis of their report. The ACLU did state that because they were unable to access certain records, "[their] findings cannot be taken as a comprehensive accounting of all evidence of excessive force by KCSO or BPD."

Thursday's report was sent by the ACLU to the California Attorney General's Office, urging the office to conduct an investigation into the reporting procedures when excessive force is used, as well as the policies surrounding the use of force. 

In December 2016, Former California Attorney General Kamala Harris opened separate civil pattern or practice investigations into both departments after complaints of misconduct.

No details have been released in that investigation and the DOJ has declined to comment saying that the investigation is ongoing. 

BPD told 23 ABC on Thursday that Chief Lyle Martin is aware of the report and will not be addressing it saying the DOJ has the sole authority to make comments regarding the investigation. 

KCSO Sheriff Donny Youngblood has commented saying, "We're under investigation by the Department of Justice for pattern and practice, so while we're under investigation we're cooperating with [the DOJ], giving them everything that we can. We're not under investigation by the ACLU."

The Bakersfield Police Department was previously investigated in July 2003, but that investigation was closed in January 2008 after not finding sufficient evidence.

READ - 2008, US Department of Justice closes investigation of BPD

If you would like to read the full 24 page report from the ACLU, we have provided the link below.