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Minneapolis Star-Tribune
August 24, 2020

Federal grand jury investigating civil rights charges in the police killing of George Floyd
By Stephen Montemayor

The federal civil rights statute for abuse of authority is sometimes used in cases of excessive use of force by police. Such charges can also be brought against prison guards or when medical officials working for law enforcement refuse to administer aid. The statute has traditionally been used as a backstop in cases where state prosecutions result in acquittal such as in the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles and the 2015 police shooting death of Walter Scott in South Carolina. According to Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, federal prosecutors brought just 49 "color of law" cases last year out of a total of more than 184,000 prosecutions nationwide. The Syracuse researchers found that such cases have been charged just 41 times a year on average in the past 20 years.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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