A member of the Las Vegas police force who arrested and beat a man for videotaping a burglary investigation has been found guilty of violating departmental practices.
Mitchell Crooks, the man who was beaten, file a complaint against Officer Derek Colling, who he claims used excessive force against him on the evening of March 20. Crooks, 36, was in his driveway of his home when a squad car pulled up at a residence across the street to investigate a burglary report. Upon exiting the car, Colling noticed a man across the way videotaping the investigation and ordered him to stop. That man was Crooks.
When Crooks refused to stop filming, Colling arrested and beat him. Much of the altercation was captured on videotape, which subsequently went viral.
The Internal Affairs Bureau of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department conducted an investigation of Crooks’s allegations. Earlier this week, they notified him that the officer had indeed been found guilty of policy violations, though official charges against not be released until the case is finalized.
Colling has been on paid suspension since April 1.
Before a final determination can be made, supervisors in Colling’s chain of command will need to review the internal affairs report and decide what punishment, if any, fits his misconduct. If the officer’s superiors recommend that he be fired, he will go before a pre-termination board for a final appeal. The harshest punishment short of firing is a 40-hour unpaid suspension.
An attorney with the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has reviewed the video and said he found clear policy violations. The attorney, Allen Lichtenstein, is quoted by the Las Vegas Journal-Review as saying:
It raises serious questions about whether the officer used good judgment and whether he was properly trained. Those questions require answers.
Rank-and-file officers who have viewed the video see it as a potential public relations nightmare for the department and believe Colling overreacted. One patrolman is quoted as saying:
The majority of us think Colling made a mistake. All the officers I talked to understand that citizens will see this video, and yeah, we know it looks bad.
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