Jeffery Price Hearing – January 21, 2021, 11 am Eastern
Transcript: Hearing on the Case of Jeffery Price
- Rapporteur Horace Campbell
- Commissioner Prof. Rashida Manjoo
- Commissioner Mr. Bert Samuels
- Ms. Denise Price, mother of Jeffery Price
- David Schurtz, attorney for the Price family
- Charlotte Kates, for the Commission steering committee
Horace Campbell 00:01
Welcome to the hearings of the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence against People of African Descent in the United States. These hearings are a process by which witnesses can present an account of the unjustified killings and maimings of Black individuals by police officers in the United States before an international panel of human rights activists. We now begin the hearing in the case of Jeffery Price. My name is Horace Campbell. I’m the rapporteur for this hearing. Presiding over this team today is Commissioner Professor Rashida Manjoo of South Africa and Commissioner Bert Samuels of Jamaica. The witnesses for this hearing are attorney David Shurtz and Miss Denise Price, the mother of Jeffery Price. We may have a third witness, Patrice Squire. There’ll be 50 minutes for this hearing. Witnesses will testify followed by a period of questions from commissioners. I will call it time at the 30 minute mark, and at the 45 minute mark. Please excuse my interruption. Commissioners, Rashida Manjoo and Commissioner Bert Samuels. I now present to you the first witness. Attorney David Shurtz, please confirm your name.
David Shurtz 01:42
Horace Campbell 01:44
Do you promise that your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
David Shurtz 01:52
Yes, I do.
Horace Campbell 01:54
You may begin.
David Shurtz 01:56
Thank you very much. I think it’s with great foresight that you focus on systemic police violence, rather dramatizing one bad apple or two bad apples, we want to see the thread that follows through all of them. So we can understand better systemic police violence and why it exists and how we can prevent it. I think you pick precisely the Price — the right case. The Price case is the perfect case to discover systemic violence in the police force.
Now to give some background, Jeffery Price is driving a motorbike, and apparently heard and there was gunshots. Now in this particular area —
Charlotte Kates 02:55
Mr. Shurtz, If you could just unmute yourself and make sure your video is on though so that we can hear see and hear you clearly that would be great. Thank you so much.
David Shurtz 03:06
Do I need to I need to start over?
Charlotte Kates 03:10
No, we heard what you said before, but then it cut off. So you can start from where you were, that would be great.
David Shurtz 03:19
Okay, so I’m discussing the facts of the accident. And some gunshots were heard in the area of a school and actually that was cause for concern. And it just so happened.
Charlotte Kates 03:41
Mr. Shurtz, my apologies. You are muted again. And there are several people with your name [on the Zoom]. So we just need to make sure that you on your phone are unmuted. Thank you so much.
David Shurtz 03:52
I was I was unmuted before I don’t know how I got muted again.
Charlotte Kates 03:56
Well, because there were several people with your name on all of whom were speaking and there was feedback, so if we just make sure that each person has unmuted and has their video on that would be great. Thank you so much. Now we can see
David Shurtz 04:12
We’re gonna mute everybody else except me.
Charlotte Kates 04:14
Perfect. Apologies for the interruption. Thank you.
David Shurtz 04:18
So we’re discussing the facts of the Jeffery Price case. Am I on? I see a screen there that I don’t recognize.
Charlotte Kates 04:26
You are on, Mr. Shurtz.
David Shurtz 04:30
So Jeffery Price just happened to be in an area where there’s some gunshots that were fired. And the police investigating are traveling behind Jeffery Price going 50 miles an hour. While they say Jeffery Price is going 70 miles an hour. Now they themselves said that it happened near a school and they’re not supposed to chase ever near a school. Why are they going behind him at 50 miles an hour and he’s going 70 miles an hour? Well the police say well, that really wasn’t a chase. But I assure you that if someone is following a young Black male on a dirt bike that’s illegal, it certainly feels like a chase to him and going 70 miles an hour. In any event, he’s going down Division Avenue. Division Avenue is a major thoroughfare in northeast DC. On the right of Division Avenue is Marvin Gaye Park. And there’s a very long sidewalk that abuts the park that separates the park from Division Avenue. So Jeffery Price is going down the street and there are two officers apparently following him. Officer — There is an officer Pearson, who is been told to come to the scene, he’s heard over dispatch that that’s where they are. And there’s a stop sign there. He goes through the stop sign, he blocks the lane of travel of Jeffery Price. There is the inevitable collision because he’s — they said he was going 70 miles an hour. And that collision resulted in his death.
Now, of course, that caused great consternation, because it’s obvious that blocking somebody’s lane with a police vehicle by a roadblock, and timing it perfectly. Sounds like he intentionally tried to do it. So they held a conference when the body worn camera was released. And the mayor was there and the chief of police were there. And they said the reason that this officer drove past the stop sign and into Jeffery Price’s lane of travel where the collision occurred dead center in his correct lane of travel is because Jeffery was on the wrong side of the road. I had a witness who was coming, but she’s not here. But she has submitted her affidavit that she was going south on Division Avenue in the opposite direction of Jeffery Price, who was coming down the street in northbound traffic. And her testimony is that if he was in the wrong lane of travel, Jeffery Price would have hit her rather than than the police officer who was in the wrong lane of travel.
So when he was being cross examined, and I believe it was by Sam Ford, who’s doing an interview today, he was asking about why didn’t he stop at the stop sign? And they said, Well, he doesn’t really have to be stopping at a stop sign. Because he was asked to come to the scene, but he was sighted because he didn’t clear the intersection. Well, how can you clear an intersection that’s a T intersection? You got Division Avenue, that is the top of the T. And the side street, which is a small street is Fitch Place. And you can’t clear it, because there’s nowhere to go. If you go, you’ll see that there is a bridge that is a stone wall. And below the stone wall is a creek. So if you’re trying to get across to clear the intersection, you’re going to hit a stone wall or the creek. So their argument doesn’t make any sense. But what makes sense is, that is, to stop at the stop sign, now according to their own regulations. Okay, they said that according to the regulations, he was required to clear the intersection. Now how can you clear an intersection if the road doesn’t go past the stop sign?
In any event, according to the general order on vehicle pursuits, if you’re designated to be the one in pursuit, and neither one of these officers were designated to be the vehicle in pursuit, it says here, when approaching an intersection controlled by a stop sign, the operator of the vehicle shall stop before entering the intersection. That was not cited as the cause of the accident. And rather than cite that as the cause of the accident, what the Chief of Police said was, he didn’t clear the intersection and that’s part of the general orders. But the officer saw that Jeffery Price was in his incorrect lane of travel, so he had to move to the other lane. Well, none of this is making sense. Obviously he knew where Jeffery was, he could, he heard it on the dispatch, and he blew through the stop sign and he timed it intentionally so that he would hit him in dead center, in Jeffery Price’s lane of travel. Now you would say okay, the police must have investigated and they did investigate this case. And they called in major crash, which is highly appropriate because they have the charter to examine death cases in the District of Columbia that arise out of a motor vehicle accident.
So who did they pick? They picked an officer by the name of Jeffery Price. Now what was the basis for his credentials? Oh, excuse me! It was officer Pepperman, not Jeffery Price. Sorry for the the mismatch there. They picked an Officer Michael Pepperman. Now why was he picked to come to the scene? Well, number one, he’s on major crash. But number two, I think they were impressed with his vast experience in biker motorcycle collisions. You see Jeffery Price was the man who killed a biker by driving. Excuse me — Officer Michael Pepperman was the one who drove head on into the biker’s lane of travel. Now, they investigated that case, and every lie possible was told in that investigation. Number one, he said that there were three bikers traveling in his lane of travel, coming at him head on. And he said under oath three times in three official reports. Then he said that Jeffery Price never really hit his vehicle. And oh, shit. Sorry. That’s it. I’ll get it right now.
Officer Pepperman said that Robinson never hit his vehicle. And so thirdly, he said he couldn’t move to the right because there were cars parked on the right side of the road. And they he also said he and he was in the process of doing a U turn and Pepperman, and Pepperman had stopped before the collision. Now, the police officer passenger was interviewed. And the police officer passenger said his story is not going to be the same as mine. He did that on purpose. Now that blew me out of the water. And I had to go back to the mother and say, You are absolutely right. You were telling me all along, they did it on purpose. That’s what the police officer passenger said. And I’m going to get to the bottom of it. Upon further investigation, there were no bikers in Pepperman’s lane of travel, I hired the top video expert in the country, they did produce a photo that showed a bike in the officer’s lane of travel and that was a computer generated photo of a bike that didn’t exist. Now the person who produced the the generated photo on behalf of the police must have known that it was a false ghost image. But I had to bring in a very expensive effort to prove, expert to prove that it was a ghost image. So there were no bikers in his lane of travel. So there was no reason for Pepperman to go into Robinson’s lane of travel.
So he’s coming down the street, and they draw the police report as a one way street. Now, that’s all fine and well, because if there’s three officers, I mean, if there’s three bikers coming down the street coming head on into the officer, it’s a one way street, obviously, there’s three motorcycles in the wrong lane of travel coming out and head on. Well, it just so happens that the commander, the captain, the lieutenant, and the sergeant who wrote the police report all came to the scene. And why is the report written as a one way street? Please tell me why. Can’t they figure out themselves if they went to the scene, that it’s a two way street rather than a one way street? And the officer Pepperman also said he never hit his car. Well, what is when the crime scene came, what is Robinson’s fingerprint doing on the hood of the car right underneath the windshield of on the driver’s side of officer Pepperman?
If If it wasn’t for the windshield, Robinson would have hit him in the face. So they drew up pictures with cars parked on the right side of the road. There were no cars parked on the right side of the road. And I’ve included a photo of that. in every respect, the police report is a lie. And it went all the way up to the Chief of Police. And the chief of police was the one who allowed Pepperman to come back on the Police Force. Officer Newsham, the same man who was giving the interview before everybody else on the Price case, was the one when he was Assistant Chief of Internal Affairs, was the one who let Pepperman back on the force. And what, how did they treat officer Pepperman? Well, they gave him a raise, they assigned him to major crash. And so why do you suppose that they assigned him to investigate the Price case? Because he had more experience lying and covering up than any other person on the police force.
He only had a one first — I mean, a one year high school education. So why did they hire or why did they bring on Pepperman? Because Pepperman was the king of cover ups to do the investigation? This is outrageous. So now we can, I want — One of the things that I did when I had to apologize to the mother I represented on the first case, is I said you were absolutely right. And I thought to myself if I could just get five bikers who have been knocked out bikes by cops I’d have the starting of a Monell claim. Well, I went to a guy named Michael Fenwick, who I knew well, he said, Hey, Dave, not only have I seen it, it has happened to me. And I know five other guys. So I go to the five other guys and five turns into 10. By the time I went into court on the Robinson case, I presented a Monell claim showing that there was a pattern and practice of the police targeting young Black males with deadly force. The judge, let me go forward with 22 affidavits out of the 200 because they occurred before, and it put the police on notice of this pattern and practice. Well, on the Price case, I still have those 200 affidavits showing that there’s a pattern and practice of targeting Black males with deadly force. And I now have about 60 more affidavits, I haven’t gotten to them, because I’m going to wait until I get vaccinated before I get the signatures on it. But I’ve got between 200 and 300 signatures of bikers who have been knocked off bikes by cops. Now you tell me, is this not a pattern and practice of targeting young Black males with deadly force? And you’re not going to get officer Newsham to change it. You’re not going to get the mayor to change it.
Because what they said in the interview, let’s read this. Peter Newsham: You know, I think you know, this Mark, that there was a lawsuit pending. And I know that the attorneys on both sides, well, maybe not both sides, but I know the attorneys are, they don’t want me to share a lot of details regarding this. Mark: Does the crash data recorder or whatever the device in the vehicle give you any other insight as to whether or not the officer tried to avoid the collision? Peter Newsham: Our vehicles do have crash data recorders, at least that one did. And what the crash data recorder does is provides information regarding braking speed, regarding acceleration, a few other things that escaped me now. But the data that was used in the investigation, and I can say that the data from that crash data recorder corroborated the statement that we received from the officer, which was, I don’t want to go into that kind of detail.
Now, you can tell that the chief of police doesn’t want to cite the regulation that I cited that says you got to stop at the stop sign. And he wants to leave it vague and obfuscate it. There’s two things that you’ve got to have in order for a police department to have trust and credibility of the public. Number one, you have to be truthful. Number two, you have to be transparent. I hope we have general agreement, truth and transparency are the essentials. And there’s only two that are required to have for the public to have confidence in the police department. In this case, there is no truth. There is no transparency. All there is this cover up. Patrice Squire will say that Price would have hit her head on if it weren’t for the fact, if in fact he had been in her lane of travel. And the fact that officer Pearson timed it perfectly, I would say is more indicative of the same pattern that happened in in that early Pepperman case. Pepperman said that these bikers were in the wrong lane of travel on the wrong side of the road. Well, in this case, they’re saying that Price was on the wrong side of the road. They’re coming up with the same rationales but their facts are are not correct.
So here we are. I’ve got 200 affidavits. I am going forward in the Price case. And I want to prove pattern and practice. So what the judges already allowed me to go forward on the Monell case in the other case, so they’re really afraid of my Monell count. So what do they do? They want to bifurcate the case. And so they prevail upon the the judge to bifurcate the case. I’ve got to go forward on the the tort case underneath for liability on the auto accident then I can go forward on the Monell case of pattern and practice. Well, the Robinson case took me six plus years to litigate. And if you add another trial for the Monell claim on top of that you’re talking 10 years. This is what they do, they obfuscate they lie. They will do anything to prevent you from getting through to the golden gate. So I would like to now switch to what is the solution to the problem and just add one more case. Amaala Jones Bay is here with me and her boyfriend Karan Hilton. Karan Hilton is the child’s father of the child that was sired by Amaala. And Karan Hilton was chased by an officer by the name of Officer Sutton. He’s well known in the area for targeting bikers. In fact, Officer Sutton had chased Robert the brother, and the brother in a different case had been targeted and had his knee broken in a chase, where he’s knocked off the bike by the cops. So they said that the reason they pulled it tried to pull him over is because he wasn’t wearing a helmet on. And he was driving on the sidewalk, while they were chasing him before he ever went on the sidewalk. And why does he want to get on the sidewalk because he doesn’t want to be hit by a car. Because his brother had his knee broken in a, he doesn’t want to have his knee broken in another collision.
So we can see that this systemic pattern of racism and targeting Black bikers with deadly force is a game. In the Pepperman case, the lady who said it was, he did it on purpose. Referring to Pepperman. One of the reasons that she said that he did it on purpose is because he was laughing before the impact. They’re doing this for fun. This is their sport. This is the cat and mouse that they’re trained to do. There is no training not to do it. Under the cover, they’re all doing it. And there is this pattern and practice. And that’s how I got the 200 to 300 affidavits of bikers have been knocked off bikes by cops. Now for my final point is that there is a way to stop this systemic pattern and practice of targeting young Black males with deadly force. And that is if you allow punitive damages against the District of Columbia and the police department for using unlawful deadly force, I guarantee you that they will quit. It’s the same reason that the manufacturers didn’t put their gas tanks be in the rear of the car before because it cost them more money to change the assembly lines than to pay off the the cases. So what they did was they they just paid the personal injury cases and kept their assembly line the same until they allowed manufacturers to be sued for punitive damages.
If you allow plaintiffs to be sued for punitive damages, and I’m not talking about qualified immunity, you’re not going to get much money from an officer. And it only allows the politicians to throw the officer under the bus if you’ve got qualified immunity, what you need is to allow plaintiffs to sue for punitive damages against any police officer, whether it’s a systemic, violent police conduct against the citizens for whatever class they happen to be in. And I would suggest that young Black males with many who don’t have a college education, or even a high school education are the perfect targets for this. Now, I would like to point out that one thing in that Robinson case, Robinson was used on all the advertisements for the Guardian program where children get a second chance at education. So he’s supposed to be the prototype of the the ideal person. Now, what does that tell the citizens that if you grow up to be like Arnell Robinson, you too, can be run over by a cop and killed. And I’ve left that photo in my statement, and please do take a look at it.
So in any event, we’ve discovered that this is outrageous conduct by the police. The two officers who were chasing Price were not sanctioned. And that was the deal, though, they slapped the wrist of the officer Pearson who blocked the intersection, and they spanked his hand with one day suspension. And so they let everybody else off for the chase. And that’s how it happens. You and then you have the people who do the investigation as the king of cover ups, and they have great experience in lying and covering up in their own case. And, and nothing happened to them except they got promotions and raises. And my experiences is, I’ve done a lot of depositions with respect to bikers. And I have had deposed some very bright police officers and I’ve deposed some that are not so bright. The one unifying feature that they all have is they will cover for the brother. That is concludes my remarks. I hope they’re helpful. And I hope that it shows that this systemic police violence occurs because they actually are moving the pieces on the chessboard, so that the people who investigate will obfuscate and lie and cover up. Thank you very much.
Horace Campbell 25:04
Commissioners, do you want to question or you want to swear in Denise Price? Which do you prefer?
Rashida Manjoo 25:15
I would prefer getting all the testimonies first. Okay. Thank you.
Horace Campbell 25:20
Commissioners Rashida Manjoo and Bert Samuels, I now present to you, the second witness, Denise Price.
Denise Price 25:23
Hello, my name is Denise Price.
Horace Campbell 25:33
Denise Price, please confirm your name.
Denise Price 25:39
Horace Campbell 25:41
Thank you. Do you promise that your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Denise Price 25:48
Horace Campbell 25:49
You may begin.
Denise Price 25:50
Good morning, I’m Denise Price. I’m the mother of Jeffery Wayne Price Jr. Jeffery was born on December 13 1995, which he was due on Christmas Day, but he came a little early. Jeffery was a bright young man who brought joy to many. He started talking in complete sentences at an early age. Okay. Jeffery did not have a police, police record, I’m sorry. Jeffery attended elementary school where he was the master of ceremonies. He went on to junior high and to high, to Maya Angelou Young Adult Center where he was on the Dean’s list. He obtained his certification in HVAC. And he went on to get his GED in 2016. He was always willing to help others and seniors in the neighborhood when he could, he contributed to the household both financial and doing things that were needed for me because I became disabled in 2017. I’ve had three knee operations since then. So being a single parent with two young kids and Jeffery, Jeffery would make sure that they got to school each morning, got home from school. He would make sure that I got to my doctor’s appointments and things and my medicines and things of that sort.
So it, this put a great impact on my family and since I live near where he was killed that’s a daily reminder for me. I cannot get to my home without crossing Division Avenue. Division and Fitch is where the where the collision occurred. And I have a daily reminder of this, so it’s hard for me as a parent to deal with not only the death of losing my son but just you know a daily reminder when I go out and see Division Ave everything comes to play over and over and over again. And may —
Okay. So where did I stop? It is a constant reminder, daily, a constant reminder daily of what occurred on May 4 2018. Now, it has been a long road. It took us over two years to get the police footage released. And what was being said prior to the police footage being released and what’s being said, and what we’ve learned is two different stories. Okay. The accident was ruled where, the collision was ruled preventable, when the police footage, body cam footage was released, and the officer was disciplined. He received a five day suspension in which he only served one day. Now, to me, as a parent, as a person, as a citizen, you’re not disciplined if you don’t do anything wrong, or illegal. So for an officer to have been disciplined, something had to be done that’s illegal or not right, or else, you wouldn’t have been disciplined. So it’s, I mean, it’s just hard for me. It continues to be hard for me, is a burden on my family and my living every day. I don’t have — stressed some days to get up. So thank god, it’s, I’m homeschooling now where I can monitor the children in my home that I still have in my home. And you know, a mother can never, never put into words, the loss of a child.
I mean, I see what they label every — I mean, they think that every young African American man with dreadlocks is out here to do something wrong or to steal or do something. But Jeffery was a gentle giant. He he would try to stop things from escalating if he knew that they were wrong. He did have a hobby with driving the dirt bikes, which were we know was illegal and we, myself and my family have always said that he should have gotten about a ticket for a traffic violation or discipline for a traffic violation. It’s not a — it shouldn’t have resulted in a death for driving a illegal dirt bike. People out in today’s society drive every day without a license. They’re given traffic violations, citations. They’re not killed because they’re driving without a driver’s license. And I just think that, you know, it’s time for change with Black young men being targeted for things in a wrong way.
Horace Campbell 34:26
We’ve passed the 30 minute mark, please continue.
David Shurtz 34:34
Sir, could you increase the volume on this on this one? Yeah, I’ve got to be able to hear. Okay, we got some sound I think. Go ahead, sir.
Horace Campbell 34:52
No, Denise could go on. I just want to alert the commissioners that we passed the 30 minute mark. Please continue, Denise.
Denise Price 35:03
Oh, I was just, I was saying that, you know, it’s got to be some change, to build trust, and with the police and the community. One week after my son’s death, my family and I was sitting in the yard of my home. The police came. And it’s a video of that on YouTube. Its “illegal search of yard in northeast DC.” They came into my yard. And they were very disrespectful. My grandkids, my kids, my brother, you know, it was a family out there. We were preparing for the funeral. And my brother asked them, well. They searched, well, me and my daughter live side by side, houses are connected. So she’s renting the house next door to my property. So my brother said, Can you at least tell us what you’re here for? And they said no. And then they went on to say, they went on to say, no, that they couldn’t tell us why they were there. And they were just so disrespectful. Well, their discipline was, they were taken off the gun recovery unit. I want to know what a gun recovery, why would a gun recovery unit come in my yard? When I don’t have a record with any guns? Jeffery don’t have a record with any guns. What were they looking for in my yard at that time? In fact, we feel as a family that the warrantless search was for, was harassment caused by us questioning Jeffery’s death.
David Shurtz 37:52
Let’s leave it at that. So we have time to play the video.
Denise Price 37:54
Okay, that’s it.
David Shurtz 37:59
No, they have a video that hopefully they’re going to play. Um, can I have some interaction? I want to know if you’re gonna play the video. Oh, good. They’re playing the video.
Denise Price 38:12
Background: I think I have to get off
David Shurtz 38:14
Background: Okay, can you get me into the TV? No, I mean that TV? Okay, no, but they’re not showing Jeffery’s body. Oh, good. I’m the short version to show the stop signs that Officer Pearson ran. Okay.
David Shurtz 39:44
It would be helpful if you stop it right when you see the stop sign There it is. Let him go through. In any event, you see that he didn’t stop at the stop sign. Stop was what I asked him to do, he went straight through. And if you follow the general orders for vehicle pursuit, it says specifically on page four, D2, when approaching an intersection controlled by a stop sign, the operator of the vehicle shall stop before entering the intersection. Had he done that, Jeffery would be alive. Why did he not stop? The reason he didn’t stop, he was targeting a young Black male with deadly force and timing it perfectly, so he’d be occupying his lane. And it was a setup. He couldn’t move anywhere he couldn’t move to the right, because there’s a park and a brick wall, he couldn’t move to the left, because that’s where officer Pearson was coming from. It was a perfect setup. And he did it intentionally. Of course, he had the right and the duty to stop at the stop sign.
The point I want to make is that the chief of police in the hearings specifically said it wasn’t that he didn’t stop at the stop sign, that that was not the cause of the accident. And they blamed it on something else called clearing the intersection. And clearing the intersection is not mentioned anywhere in the general order regarding vehicle pursuit. But stopping at the stop sign certainly is. I guess they they just aren’t trained enough and well enough to stop at stop signs. When they’re chasing people. Because they might hit somebody. I — the stop sign is there for a reason. It’s to look left and to look right before you go into the intersection. That’s the purpose for the stop sign. Why, why disregard the purpose of the stop sign? When you say you want to clear the intersection, the way you clear the intersection is by stopping, not by proceeding into the intersection.
I don’t know where we are. And I need some guidance, because I’ve said what I wanted to say. And Denise has completed her statement as well.
Horace Campbell 43:22
Thank you very much. You’re going to be interviewed by the commissioners.
David Shurtz 43:25
Rashida Manjoo 43:30
Thank you, Mr. Shurtz, and Ms. Benjamin, I mean, Ms. Price. I would like to express my condolences to Ms. Price for the loss of your son. And thank you very much for sharing your testimony and the challenges that you have faced, both at a personal level losing your son, and the lack of justice and accountability and the trauma of dealing with a system that continued to harass you even after, while you were trying to prepare the burial of your son. And I’m sure it’s been it’s been a difficult experience and continues to be. I I’m assuming that when the officer was disciplined, even if it was a five day discipline which he served a day. Was there a reason given? What was the basis of the discipline? Because that’s a question you raised, Ms. Price, that if he hadn’t done anything wrong, why was he being disciplined? Did you get an answer to that? What was the basis of this disciplinary action?
David Shurtz 44:52
They said that there was a general order that said he has a duty to clear the intersection. That was their statement to the press at the press conference with the mayor and the Chief of Police. And I tried to address that. It comes to a T intersection though, you can’t drive to the other side, you run into a stone wall or a creek. I mean, how do you clear an intersection when there’s no, no pathway to go through the intersection? If he’s saying that he was in the wrong lane of travel, and he was going the wrong way, the only way to clear the intersection is to stop. And that’s what the regulations require. This, this Hocus Pocus about clearing the intersection, I don’t read that anywhere in the vehicular pursuit regulations. What’s said in the vehicle pursuit regulations is when approaching an intersection controlled by a stop sign, now this is if you’re the lead officer in the chase, the operator of the vehicle shall stop before entering the intersection. Even the guy who’s chasing and authorized to chase, and none of them were authorized to chase. They’re supposed to stop at the intersection.
Rashida Manjoo 46:13
Thank you, Mr. Shurtz. The other question that I had for you was that you have now collected between 200 and 300 testimonies, where there has been this targeted practice by the police, when it comes to bike riders who are predominant, who are Black, basically.
David Shurtz 46:37
Rashida Manjoo 46:41
All Black. Do you have any information about any white bikers who’ve been targeted in any way? Probably not killed, but targeted if it’s considered an illegal activity? Have there been cases of whites who ride these bikes and have been targeted?
David Shurtz 47:03
Well, I’m pleased to inform you that apparently they don’t discriminate on the basis of gender, because there were some female bikers who were wearing hoodies that they didn’t know are females. So females were knocked off the bikes. But all of the people who were knocked up bikes were Black. And that’s why I pointed out in the moped situation with the Hilton, there’s lots of white people who drive mopeds, there’s only one situation in which he’s targeted and killed. And that’s because he’s a young Black male.
Horace Campbell 47:35
We’ve passed the 45 minute period.
Bert Samuels 47:39
Attorney Shurtz, with this finding of the new weapon of choice being police cars. And with your proof that there was, they were lying about many things. In our jurisdiction, there is a crime called perverting the course of justice. That’s where you lie in an issue. Is there anything similar to that charge of perverting the course of justice by an open lie? Is that part of the jurisprudence in your part of the United States?
David Shurtz 48:16
Well, of course, lying in any context, there’s many, many statutes that says you can’t lie, especially on a police report, or to a tribunal. But if you’ve got the chief of police, as the one who has decided to let Michael Pepperman back on the police force, and he’s given a raise, and he’s promoted to the rank of detective, and he puts him on the major crash committee, so that he investigates other police officers, and he’s the one who’s selected to investigate the Price case, it appears that the truth and justice doesn’t apply to this police department.
Bert Samuels 48:57
Okay. And and secondly, they, the bikers that 200 or so affidavits you have, that evidence that there is a pattern and practice for targeting Black males, African American males, that evidence that you have, can you take it in the civil case that you’re going to raise or is it would be excluded?
David Shurtz 49:21
Well, that’s the beauty of it. In the very first case, it took me six years to get to that point. And Judge Boasberg in federal court made the decision that I could go forward to a jury based on 22 affidavits, because they happened before the collision of Robinson. And so that would serve to put the department on notice of pattern and practice. Well, you would think they would learn by the Price case. Now I’ve got 200 to 300 of them, and they’re still doing it.
Bert Samuels 49:57
Okay, and finally, the punitive damages in your part, which is an add on in our jurisprudence, we can have punitive damages as punishment. What’s the likelihood of success for that?
David Shurtz 50:12
Thank you for asking. I’ve got my fingers crossed. There is only one case that I was able to do the research on and find where the, where a jurist had said that it was possible to do it, well, the Supreme Court said it’s possible, but they don’t advise it. Because it’s the taxpayers who are the ones who are paying for the punitive damages. And so they’re strongly advised against it. But there is one case, and it was done by, offered by Reggie Walton. And it just so happens that Reggie Walton has to be the judge in my case. And he said, this is how you would get punitive damages for a case of pattern and practice under Monell. And I followed it to the tee. And I think they were afraid to challenge that at this stage because they would lose against Judge Walton. So what they did is bifurcated the case. So that I can’t hear that have the Monell case heard at the same time the other damages for the personal injury case is heard.
Bert Samuels 51:16
Okay, thank you.
Rashida Manjoo 51:19
Mr. Shurtz the issue, it’s the question of punitive damages. Do you think that punitive damages in a number of cases will send a message, and change systemic structural problems of racism and targeting of African Americans?
David Shurtz 51:43
Not only do I think that it would, I think it’s the only method. If you look at the big tobacco lobby, they were doing it for years until punitive damages came along. They didn’t change their advertising. If you look at the auto manufacturers where they put the gas tank in the back of the car and they had rear end collisions, and the vehicle would explode, they didn’t change their assembly line until there is punitive damages. Punitive damages is the only way you are going to change systemic racism in the police department.
Bert Samuels 52:25
Attorney Shurtz, were a citizen driving through a stop sign, would that be a wrongful death criminal case, likely, motor vehicle fatality case?
David Shurtz 52:40
Well, it if your intention was to run the stop sign, then it becomes a violation of the Constitution. Now can you sue for damages for wrongful death, is an action that they just determined that he died wrongfully. And that can be by negligence. But in a case where you’ve got to bypass all those state laws, in order to get the federal court, what you do is you show that the actions of the police were excessive, and using a police vehicle to target a biker is deadly force. And it’s just that the bikers, if they’re not, if they’re not killed, they run away. And the police officer gets the credit for taking a bike off the street. But if he dies, there’s only a few of these cases. So they say it’s maybe a one off kind of a thing and a bad apple or whatever. And they discounted it, it’s not part of the pattern and practice. But I think 200 to 300 affidavits speaks to the fact that there is and I happen to be sitting in a room with a mother and a girlfriend who lost their significant other as a result of a pattern and practice. Thank you.
Rashida Manjoo 54:09
Sorry, my internet went off for a little bit. So I lost my connectivity. But one last question on qualified immunity. One of your recommendations is the elimination of qualified immunity. And in the previous hearing that we had, you know, I asked the question about, has there been any advocacy and activism with Congress about a law to to basically get rid of this doctrine of qualified immunity?
David Shurtz 54:43
Well, both sides have weighed in but the Congress has not passed a universal statute that is United States-wide to prevent the application of qualified immunity. But mind you, qualified immunity only targets the officer. It says you can get damages against the police officer for doing wrong. And if, even if he didn’t know it was wrong, you can still get the damages because what he did was wrong. But it’s not going to amount to a hill of beans, because most police officers are police officers because they’re not millionaires. You know, they’re not gonna be able to pay but diddly squat. It just gives the politicians an opportunity to throw the officer under the bus, which they do all the time. They say this is just a bad apple, and they got a lot of bad apples. Well, they got 200 bad apples in the police department that are targeting bikers at least 200 almost three. And they don’t have that. I mean, they got a lot of police officers, but that’s a significant percentage of the police officers.
Horace Campbell 56:05
Bert, you were finished?
Bert Samuels 56:09
Yes, if this time, I just want to know whether the police union descended on your case. This one, did the police union come into play?
David Shurtz 56:18
I’m so glad you brought that up. Guess what happened with the Pepperman case, when he killed Robinson? They allowed the union representative to come in and coach the lady who said he did it on purpose, while the investigation was going on. That’s outrageous. You shouldn’t — I understand you’re gonna let the union representative in. But the union rep shouldn’t be coming down to the police station and coaching the people on what to say during the interviews. That’s outrageous. I mean, I hope that you can see how bad this is. You know, you’ve got the the the liar in chief who’s investigating biker cases. This is outrageous. And he’s lied at every turn. Oh, one point. I’m glad you’ve asked me to talk a little longer. I asked Pepperman in his deposition if he would had anything to do over again, would he? Would he change what he did?
And he said no, I would do it exactly the same way. He’s not even repentant. And yet he goes on major crash where he can investigate other police officers involved in collisions? This is outrageous. I can give you the deposition, I can say show you where he said I would do it the same way. Would he tell the same lies? When he would he say that it’s a one way street? Would he say there’s bikers in his lane of travel when there were none? Would they produce, be producing ghost images? This is this is all sheer craziness. And no. And I want to thank you so much. Because the district’s not interested in this, the police is not interested in it and even the Washington Post is not interested in this. And you’re the only one who has, are raising this issue when we need to have someone come in from the outside. And that’s why I was hoping the United States Office of the Attorney General would take an interest in it. Because this is real. Whether whether you use a gun or a car, there’s no difference. It’s deadly force.
Horace Campbell 58:22
Thank you. Rashida. Do you have any last questions?
Rashida Manjoo 58:28
No, I just would like to thank Mr. Shurtz and Ms. Price for giving us the time and the information today to help us think through some of these issues. Thank you.
Horace Campbell 58:43
I would want to also add my voice of thanks, and for your enthusiasm. This concludes the hearing of the case of Jeffery Price. Hearings will resume tomorrow. And thank you all for your participation.