A look at Shreveport's excessive force complaint numbers

By Tracy Clemons – bio|e-mail

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA)- A Shreveport woman claims police brutality when they beat up her son when they arrested him. In October 2010, police arrested Derek Deon White during an undercover drug bust on Rex Street in Shreveport.

"From what I understand from the neighbors, when they threw something through the kitchen window, they saw Derek with his hands up in the air and one of the police officers punched him, and knocked him back, and they knocked him to the floor and started stomping him," says his mother Jackie Sloan.

Sloan says her son's arrest resulted in a broken nose and damage to his eye- "If you did an animal like this, they would lock you up and throw away the key."

Derek was charged with multiple drug and firearms offenses. His mother filed an internal affairs complaint with SPD. The results came back two months later. Investigators found that the complaint was not sustained.

"Not sustained means there wasn't enough evidence to really prove either way. ( In other words, there wasn't a preponderance of evidence that anything happened or did not happen---anything against policy," says SPD Public Information Officer Bill Goodin.

The police department says using force in some cases is the only way to keep officers and others safe.

"Based on what those officers knew at the time and what they were facing in those seconds as that incident was occurring, that's how we judge what force is reasonable and what force is not."

Sloan believes it's an abuse of power.

"It's been going on all along, but everybody is scared to say anything. But they're looking at the right one."

SPD records show a relatively small number of cases result in use of force-"We generally arrest about 15,000 people a year, 15,500, somewhere around there a year. Of those 15,000 people, we have to use force on about 200-300 of those.

SPD tells KSLA News 12 that in 2009, there were 43 use of force complaints. Internal Affairs found that excessive force was used in five of them. Last year there were 66 complaints. Eight were found to involve excessive force. Some are still under investigation.

"We look at each one of those use of force instances to see how we can do our job better. Ultimately, none of us want to go to work and hurt anybody," says Goodin.

Sloan tells us she and her son plan to file a civil suit against Shreveport Police for what they believe to be a violation of Derek's civil rights. She says they'll move forward with it once his criminal matter is handled.

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