Civil rights lawsuit filed against Oakland PD

March 10, 2009 7:06:53 PM PDT
The city of Oakland and police have been slapped with a $10 million lawsuit for something that happened nearly a decade ago. At issue is whether police covered up the beating of a suspect, who later died.

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The family of 38-year-old Jerry Amaro is suing Oakland Police Captain Ed Poulson, former Police Chief Richard Word and six other officers.

They claim Amaro died after being beaten by the officers whom they say covered up the incident.

Amaro's parents say they were shocked when their lawyers told them what they learned.

"I wish to God that a maniac or insane person or a plain murderer would have killed my son, and to find out at the end, it was the police who did it," said Jerry Amaro's mother Geraldine Montoya.

Amaro was arrested for buying crack cocaine in March of 2000 at Holly Street and 73rd Avenue. Relatives say Amaro later complained police had beaten him. He died a month after the arrest.

The lawsuit charges Poulson with repeatedly kicking Amaro.

A coroner's report says Amaro died from pneumonia, caused by broken ribs and a collapsed lung. But the coroner's report did not mention any excessive force by police.

The family's lawyer claims Poulson told the other officers to lie about the beatings.

"Don't talk to anyone about this and as I go up the ladder I'll be supportive of you," said Montoya family lawyer John Burris.

Two months ago, the Chauncey Bailey Project reported the FBI is now investigating Poulson and Amaro's death.

Matt Pavone, Poulson's lawyer, told ABC7 he's reviewed the records of all the investigations on the incident and that they cleared Poulson and the other officers of any excessive force.

"One of the independent witnesses absolutely said none of the officers used any excessive force and the other independent witness who said she did think the officers had used more force then she thought appropriate didn't singularly identify any of the uniformed officers, including Lt. Poulson," said Pavone.

Burris says his information about this case comes from the same Oakland police officers who went to the FBI.

The FBI says its investigation is continuing, but two reliable sources tell ABC7, so far they've found no direct evidence of Captain Poulson kicking Amaro.

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