US: Justice Department Finds Cleveland Police Use Excessive Force

Attorney General Holder Says Police Force Has Pattern of Excessive Firing of Weapons

A Justice Department probe has concluded the Cleveland Division of Police has a pattern and practice of using excessive force, both in firing weapons and in using non-deadly techniques.

The findings were announced Thursday in Cleveland by Attorney General Eric Holder , who has been spending an increasing amount of time dealing with issues of police force. On Wednesday night, after a New York City grand jury decided not to indict a police officer in the death of an unarmed man in July, Mr. Holder announced a federal civil-rights probe into the incident.

Cleveland officials have agreed to an outside monitor to improve their training and practices, officials said.

This isn’t the first time the federal government has identified problems in Cleveland. A decade ago, it struck a similar agreement with local officials to correct what federal officials saw as excessive force problems among Cleveland police.

The announcement comes at a time when Cleveland police are already facing intense criticism over the recent fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy carrying a realistic-looking toy gun.

According to the Justice Department, the problems at the Cleveland police department include: excessive force in shootings and blows to the head; excessive or retaliatory use of tasers, chemical spray and fists; excessive force against mentally ill people; the use of risky tactics that make the use of force unavoidable.