Cox informed Sergeant Cook that he had been assaulted by Goodwin, and described the events outlined in this opinion, however, while Cox was present, Sergeant Cook took no further action concerning the use of force allegations.
Later, during the booking process at the police station, Goodwin advised Cox to refuse treatment at the hospital, ostensibly so that Cox could be released sooner. When Cox asked Brady why he was being treated in the manner that he was, Brady responded "slow night." Although another officer finally did take Cox to the hospital, he was told by a nurse that he had arrived too late for the wounds above his eye to be properly stitched. While at the hospital, Cox again asked the officers on several different occasions whether he could make a telephone call. Eventually, at 6:20 a.m., one officer made a call on Cox's behalf. Several hours later, Cox was driven back to the police station where he was released after posting the required $ 25 bond.
The citation Cox received for disorderly conduct required him to appear in court at a later date. In accordance with the citation, he duly presented himself in court on the appointed date, however, no police officer appeared. As a result, the charge against him was dropped. The traffic citation he received for his turn signal violation was also dropped.
Cox received three permanent scars from the incident; one from the handcuffs on his right wrist and two above his left eye. In addition, he still suffers recurring pain in his neck area.
B. History of the Civilian Complaint Review Board
As one would expect, District of Columbia law prohibits the use of unnecessary or wanton force by a police officer and supporting regulations similarly require that police officers act constitutionally. D.C. Code § 4-176 (1988); Joint Stipulation of Facts ("Stipulation"), P 1. Police recruits are told that they may use reasonable force, the reasonableness of which depends on the circumstances with which the recruit is faced. Similarly, recruits are instructed that excessive force may result in removal from the police force, criminal charges, and/or civil damages. Id., P 2. If, at any time while an officer is on probation during his or her first year of employment, the officer's conduct is deemed unsatisfactory, the officer must be terminated. D.C. Code § 4-106.
Prior to 1982, citizen complaints regarding police misconduct were handled directly by the MPD.
Stipulation, P 3. In 1980, however, the District of Columbia Council ("the Council") promulgated the Civilian Complaint Review Board Act of 1980 ("the Act"). D.C. Code §§ 4-901 to 4-911 (1988 & Supp. 1992). The Act created the Civilian Complaint Review Board ("the CCRB"), consisting of seven part-time members, charged with making findings and recommendations with respect to citizen complaints concerning misconduct by officers of the Metropolitan Police Department. Id. § 4-902.
The CCRB was created to provide "a formal mechanism for public participation and public review of allegations of misconduct which undermine community respect for and cooperation with the police." Stipulation, P 4.
The Act granted the CCRB exclusive jurisdiction over citizen complaints of police harassment, use of excessive force, and use of demeaning language, except for complaints in which there is "any probability that the alleged misconduct was criminal in nature." Id. § 4-903(d).
If the CCRB concludes that there is any probability of criminal misconduct, the complaint must be referred to the United States Attorney's Office ("the USAO") for investigation. Once referral has occurred, the CCRB loses jurisdiction over the investigation and only regains jurisdiction if the USAO decides not to prosecute the officer. CCRB Rule 300.8. Similarly, while a citizen complaint is pending before the CCRB, the MPD is divested of authority to investigate or otherwise discipline any officer on the basis of the complaint except in the following discrete group of cases: any citizen complaint submitted to the MPD regarding the use of service weapons, including police batons, is reviewed by the MPD's Weapon's Review Board;
citizen complaints involving criminal conduct by police officers which appear well founded are referred to the USAO for potential prosecution; and, the MPD may conduct investigations expressly recommended by the CCRB or by the USAO. Stipulation, P 4.
Once a complaint is submitted to the CCRB, the CCRB is required by statute to schedule a hearing date within thirty days. D.C. Code § 4-905(a). The statute also requires that the accused officer be given "sufficient opportunity to respond to the allegations in any complaint" and the results of any investigation are to be "written in an investigative report, filed with the Board, and served on every party." Id. Moreover, "absent unusual circumstance, . . . investigation shall be completed within 90 days." CCRB Rule 100.2; Stipulation, P 7. After the investigation has been completed and the statutorily required hearing has been held, the CCRB must make findings on the merits.
No complaint may be disposed of except on the vote of the CCRB. If, after voting, the CCRB sustains a complaint, it also recommends a sanction which may either be accepted or rejected by the Chief of Police within thirty days. D.C. Code § 4-903(c). Then, even if the Chief of Police accepts the CCRB's decision, the Mayor retains the authority to overrule that decision. Stipulation, P 7. Furthermore, any remedy recommended by the CCRB is "cumulative of any others provided by statute or at common law." D.C. Code. § 4-909(e).
The number of complaints filed from 1982 when the CCRB was first established until 1991, when this case was initiated, generally increased from year to year. Only in 1985, did the number of complaints filed fall from the number filed the previous year:
Year Number of complaints filed
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