Dear Democracy Now! Visitor: We are an independent, ad-free daily news program that serves millions of viewers and listeners each month. In this US election year, Democracy Now! is more important than ever. For 20 years, we’ve put a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power. We lift up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We do all of this with just a fraction of the budget and staff of a commercial news show. We do it without ads, corporate sponsorship or government funding. How is this possible? Only with your support. A generous funder will match your donation dollar for dollar if you donate right now. That means when you give $10, your donation will be worth $20. Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you every day.

Your Donation: $

Congressional Black Caucus Holds Hearings On Police Brutality in Los Angeles

August 31, 1999

Federal authorities in California have opened an investigation into the El Monte Police Department’s fatal shooting of a 61-year-old grandfather during a narcotics raid in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, officials said yesterday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Gennaco has asked the FBI to open a probe to see if Mario Paz’s civil rights were violated by the El Monte officers, who shot off the locks to his home last August 9th and then shot him twice in the back during a raid in the middle of the night. Paz’s family says it is filing a lawsuit against the department.

The police say an officer feared that Paz was armed or was reaching for a weapon—characterizations disputed by the family. El Monte police had been looking for an alleged drug dealer who had used Paz’s address. Police have since said they had no information to tie Paz or his family to drug trafficking and still do not have any information or evidence of wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles-area police practices came under scrutiny yesterday at a hearing convened by the Congressional Black Caucus. One of those providing testimony was attorney Carl Douglas, who said that no police officers have been prosecuted in L.A. County for killing a civilian in the last four years. According to Douglas, having the district attorney’s office investigate allegations of police misconduct is "like having the foxes guard the hen house."


  • Rep. Juanita Millender-Mcdonald (D-CA), Congresswoman representing the Watts area of Los Angeles.
  • Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).
  • Michael Zinzun, Coalition Against Police Abuse and member of the Black Radical Congress. He is also a former Black Panther.
  • Brian Dunn, Los Angeles Attorney representing the family of Mario Paz. He is from the firm Cochran, Cherry, Givens, Smith and Ferrer, and is handling this case together with Johnnie Cochran.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.