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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Federal Officials Close the Investigation Involving Bureau of Police Officers

ERIE, Pa. - Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song issued the following statement today:

"Today, we announce that no federal civil rights charges will be brought related to the arrest of Montrice Bolden.”

"We met with Montrice Bolden’s family to inform them of our decision. We have also communicated our decision to the Erie Bureau of Police and to Mayor Sinnott. While the public, understandably, may have questions regarding the facts of what occurred, the Department of Justice considered only the narrow question of whether there is sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.

"Senior members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh, prosecutors from the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice and FBI special agents have conducted a thorough and independent review of this matter.

"After this review, we determined that the evidence does not warrant federal criminal civil rights charges against the Erie Bureau of Police officers who were involved in the arrest of Mr. Bolden on June 28, 2016.

“Under the applicable federal criminal civil rights laws, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law enforcement officer’s actions were objectively unreasonable and that the law enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right. To act ‘willfully,’ for purposes of the federal statute, means to act with deliberate and specific intent to defy or disregard the law. Neither negligence, accident, mistake, fear nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish such a criminal violation.

“Legal restrictions relating to the confidentiality of criminal investigations prohibit us from further discussing the specifics of this case.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office remains committed to working with the Erie community to improve trust between the community and the police. The City of Erie and the Erie Bureau of Police have coordinated with our office and the U.S. Department of Justice to commence civil rights training with all members of the Erie Bureau of Police beginning Thursday, April 13, 2017. The Erie Bureau of Police has actively engaged with community members in an effort to improve relations and trust since August 2016. We commend the Erie Bureau of Police for its willingness to seek additional civil rights training and to enhance mutual trust between law enforcement and the citizens they serve. Due to the high interest in this investigation, we have engaged a federal mediator from the Department of Justice, Community Relations Service, who has traveled to Erie on multiple occasions and will continue to meet with Erie community members and officials.

“The United States Attorney’s Office remains committed to investigating allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers and will continue to assure that all allegations of civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated.”

Updated April 12, 2017