Culture of Impunity a Toxic Element Contributing to Police Violence

Posted April 15, 2015

MP3 Interview with Matthew Fogg, retired chief deputy U.S. Marshal, conducted by Scott Harris


Over the past week, the nation has witnessed three incidents of grossly excessive police violence, which in two instances, resulted in the death of unarmed African-American men. In an April 2 sting operation gone wrong in Tulsa, Oklahoma, an untrained 73-year-old white reserve deputy police officer, Robert Bates, shot and killed suspected gun trafficker Eric Courtney Harris as he fled the scene of the undercover operation. Bates has since been charged with manslaughter. Several days later on April 5, Walter Scott, who was stopped in North Charleston, South Carolina. for a broken tail light, was shot to death by white policeman Michael Slager as Scott ran away from the officer. Slager is charged with murder and has been fired by the police department. In another incident on April 9, Francis Pusok, an unarmed white man who fled police officers serving a warrant, first in a car – and then on horseback, was severely beaten by ten San Bernardino, California sheriff’s deputies after he had surrendered. The ten deputies involved have been placed on paid administrative leave.

One thing all these incidents had in common is that they were all captured on video – either by a bystander, a police body camera or in the case of the beating in San Bernardino, a video crew in a news helicopter. Without the irrefutable documentation seen in the video images, it’s likely that police accounts of these events may have been accepted by investigators at face value, and officers guilty of misconduct may have suffered no consequences and escaped all accountability. In the Walter Scott case, it is clear that the report written by officer Slager immediately after the shooting, contradicted the facts later seen in the video recording.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Matthew Fogg, a retired chief deputy U.S. Marshal, who won the largest-ever $4 million employee Title VII discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice. Here, he examines the culture of impunity that exists in some police departments that leads to acts of irresponsible violence without consequences.

For more information on Matthew Fogg, visit his website at

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