MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Back in January, Reginald Johnson asked Memphis’ Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board how it would affect change.
“Mr. Johnson asked the board about their intentions in the new year to put pressure on the mayor and the police director in order to affect change as it seems as if their efforts in the previous year didn’t get any momentum within those departments,” CLERB’s Jan. 2019 meetings read.
Board chair Casey Bryant answered that the board is trying to figure out the best way “to go about implementing these goals and is looking forward to the opportunities that the new year will bring as the board continues its outreach and work,” according to meeting minutes.
Johnson had appeared before the board before – twice alone for his case to be heard.
CLERB board members recommended action on his case on both occasions.
In April 2017, CLERB wrote a letter to Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings, asking him to formally reprimand the officers involved in Johnson’s case.
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Ralph White, the then-board chair for CLERB, wrote that the board also recommended that the “Memphis Police Department hold sensitivity training and procedural training for the officers involved, with special attention to the issue of entering residences without a warrant and with no extenuating circumstances or probable cause.”
More than three weeks passed before Rallings responded.
“This incident was the result of the actions of Mr. Reginald Johnson, Sr. He directly interfered with an official investigation of a shooting conducted by the officers dispatched to his residence,” wrote Rallings. “As to the Board’s recommendation that sensitivity training be provided for the officers involved in this incident, such training is and will continue to be provided during the Department’s yearling In-Service Training.
“Based upon the above findings, I will take no additional action as to the Board’s recommendations.”
The outcome of the Johnson case is like other cases seen in public records reviewed by FOX13 Investigates.
Public records on CLERB’s website show three letters sent to Rallings between April 2017 and May 2018.
CLERB sent Memphis police four cases with recommendations in April 2017.
The board was not satisfied with the police department’s response, so it re-examined three of the same cases and sent those back again with more recommendations in August 2017.
The board sent over a brand-new case in May 2018.
Among the total recommendations, CLERB asked MPD to implement specific sensitivity training to involved officers, anger management training for an officer, classes on citizens’ constitutional rights and a letter of apology to be written by officers.
All were denied by MPD with Rallings writing, like in the Johnson case, that training is provided yearly.
To the apology letter recommendation, Rallings wrote that “a letter of apology shall not be ordered because the officers acted within policy” and that he would deny all recommendations by CLERB for that case.
Rallings did write that MPD would review one case, asking CLERB to send over video evidence it obtained for review.
“I will instruct the Inspectional Services Bureau to make the video a part of its case file and to make additional findings as warranted,” wrote Rallings in May 2017. “Upon the completion of the review, I will notify CLERB in writing of the actions I propose in response to their recommendations.”
It’s unclear if Rallings ever followed up with CLERB on that case as there is no public trail of that follow-up letter.
It’s also unclear if Rallings ever responded to the May 2018 letter, as no corresponding letter is on CLERB’s website.
CLERB, board chair Bryant and MPD did not respond to multiple inquiries for comment and interviews on Thursday.
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