Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Reports: Cleveland, Justice Department Reach Agreement Over Police Conduct

Police officers are illuminated by patrol car lights during a protest against the acquittal of Michael Brelo on Saturday in Cleveland.
John Minchillo AP
Police officers are illuminated by patrol car lights during a protest against the acquittal of Michael Brelo on Saturday in Cleveland.

The city of Cleveland has reached an agreement with the Justice Department over allegations that the city's police department engaged in a pattern of using excessive force, violating the civil rights of its residents, The New York Times, the AP and The Los Angeles Times are reporting.

The deal, which the Justice Department has reached with many other cities across the country including New Orleans, Seattle and Detroit, are known as consent decrees.

The New York Times reports:

"The details of the settlement were not immediately clear, but in similar talks in recent years, the Justice Department has required cities to allow independent monitors to oversee changes in police departments. Settlements are typically backed by court orders and often call for improved training and revised policies for the use of force. "A spokeswoman for the Cleveland Division of Police referred questions to the mayor's office, which would not comment on Monday. Dena Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, also had no comment."

As we reported back in December, the Justice Department released a report that detailed a pattern of abuse. Investigators reviewed about 600 use-of-force incidents between 2010 and 2013 and they found that Cleveland police often used guns in a "careless and dangerous manner."

Police, the report found, fired at people who did not pose an immediate threat; they punched suspects who were already cuffed; they assaulted mentally ill people when families called for help; and they used stun guns and pepper spray instead of trying to de-escalate situations.

That report came just days after a 12-year-old boy playing with an air gun was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer.

Over the weekend, demonstrators took the streets to protest the acquittal of Michael Brelo, who was "charged in the 2012 deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams — unarmed suspects who were caught in a 137-shot hail of police gunfire following a high-speed chase."

The Justice Department is expected to make an announcement about the consent decree as early as today. We'll update this post with the details once they are announced.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.