The Salinas Police Department killed four Latino men in 2014. No charges were brought against any of the officers. The Dolan Law Firm represents the parents of Osman Hernandez, one of the persons killed.
The civil rights/wrongful death complaint charges that Salinas PD officers, without cause, used excessive and unreasonable force against Osman Hernandez on May 9, 2014, tasing him and then shooting him approximately ten times. Hernandez, the complaint charges, did not pose a threat of death or serious injury to the officers when they fired their guns.
On March 22, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services issued a press release and scathing report on the operations and practices of the Salinas PD. The DOJ found:
- officers do not receive regular training on how to effectively respond to individuals with mental health issues, and are not able to maintain their training certification requirements;
- the use of force policy is vague and officers do not receive adequate training on use of force de-escalation, especially with regards to people with mental health issues;
- there are notable deficiencies with the department’s internal complaint (and investigation) process that brings into question the department’s ability to hold officers accountable;
- police and community relations are significantly frayed, and the police department does not appear to fully appreciate this disconnect;
- there exists notable deficiencies within internal communications that results in confusion within the ranks and contributes to low moral;
- the department “lacks a unified, overarching community-collaborative policing philosophy and strategy;” and
- officers are not regularly trained on implicit bias, cultural awareness, or procedural justice.
The DOJ rarely investigates local police agencies and issues such strong findings. Importantly, the DOJ was not tasked with determining whether or not the four shootings were justified.