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Investigation of the Des Moines Police Department: Use of Force in the Arrest of Larry Milton, Review of Police Internal Affairs Investigation System, Review of Police Training Procedures

NCJ Number
W P Angrick II
Date Published
139 pages
The Iowa Citizens' Aide Office determined that Des Moines police did not use excessive force in the arrest of Larry Milton in December 1991.
The investigation showed that Milton attempted to flee and fought three police officers with superhuman strength. Milton was struck in the head about eight times by an officer during the arrest for public intoxication and resisting arrest. He was also struck about five times in the face with a leather-covered lead sap by another officer. The three officers involved said Milton let out a strange wail which indicated he was losing touch with reality just prior to the altercation. Milton told the Citizens' Aide Office he had smoked a 30-cent rock of cocaine and consumed 5 cans of beer prior to his arrest. Witnesses testified to his high levels of anxiety and intoxication. The Citizens' Aide Office questioned certain police procedures following the arrest, however, and recommended changes in the way citizen complaints about the Des Moines Police Department are handled. It was determined that internal affairs investigations should be separated as much as possible from the police chain of command so that the internal affairs unit is free to conduct investigations independently, issue recommendations, and report directly to the police chief. Because the Des Moines Police Department's internal affairs unit does not make recommendations and instead reports its findings back through the chain of command, citizen complaints do not necessarily receive an impartial review to the extent possible under an internal affairs review system. The importance of adequate training for law enforcement officers is stressed. 2 charts