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The hidden billion-dollar cost of repeated police misconduct

Washington Post
March 9, 2022

More than $1.5 billion has been spent to settle claims of police misconduct involving thousands of officers repeatedly accused of wrongdoing. Taxpayers are often in the dark.

About 8:30 one Thursday evening in Detroit, Tony Murray was getting ready for bed ahead of his 6 a.m. shift at a potato chip factory. As he turned off the final light in the living room, he glanced out of his window and saw a half-dozen uniformed police officers with guns drawn approach his home.

As the officers banged on the door, Murray ordered Keno, his black Labrador retriever, to the basement. As Murray let the officers in, one quickly pushed him to the floor and at least two others ran to the cellar, he said. “Don’t kill my dog. He won’t bite you,” Murray pleaded. The sound of gunshots filled the house. Keno’s barking, the 56-year-old recalled, morphed into the sound of “a girl screaming.”

Officers searched Murray’s home for nearly an hour, flipping his sofa and emptying drawers. Outside, Murray approached the officers standing by their vehicles. One handed him a copy of the search warrant, which stated they were looking for illegal drugs. Murray noticed something else: The address listed wasn’t his. It was his neighbor’s.

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