Taken from a Facebook live video on March 22 on the Cochran Firm’s official Facebook page, hosted by Brian Dunn.
If you warn the police about someone who is dangerous and they do nothing, are the police responsible? In the eyes of right or wrong, the answer is, yes, they are responsible. In the eyes of the law, no, they are not responsible. That’s a very interesting point because contrary to popular belief, there is no duty for police to do their job properly. There is no duty for them to provide police services in a manner that is efficient or equitable. They must provide them in a manner that is non-discriminatory with regard to the equal protection of the laws, but the actual provision of police services on its face is not governed by law.
Depending on how old you are, you may remember the case of Reginald Denny. Reginald Denny was a white trucker who in the beginning of the L.A. riots in ’92. Following the Rodney King verdict, there was a flash point of riots and Reginald Denny, simply because he was white, was taken out of his truck and was beaten to just inches of his life, while law enforcement officers were literally staging at the next block. This was a situation where the violence took place over a prolonged period of time. It was being captured live by news cameras. The police knew what was happening. They were there. The sergeants knew it was happening. They were there. For whatever reasons, because of a complete stalemate in the chain of command, because of a locked law jam, pure negligence, they didn’t get in there and help this guy.
The Cochran Firm represented him. Johnny Cochran and I represented Reginald Denny. We came up against this very situation. What we learned is that despite the flagrant nature of this, and it was flagrant, the police simply didn’t have a duty to do anything at all to protect him. The theory that did fly was that they had a duty to provide similar services in similar neighborhoods and we were able to show that because Reginald Denny was in an African-American neighborhood. He was actually being discriminated against because the police weren’t responding in African-American neighborhoods, the same way they were in white neighborhoods. Even though Reginald Denny was white, we were able to represent him on that theory. That’s kind of an extreme and creative example, but what most people don’t know is that they don’t have to do anything at all.