Loretta Prater was truly an exemplary “mother of the movement” and before the tragic events of the last few years created so many more mothers who lost their children due to excessive use of force by police. Her struggle for justice is important and instructive.
— Barry Scheck, civil rights attorney; co-founder of the National Innocence Project
This is one mother’s vivid account of the death of her son to the unfortunate outcome of police brutality in our society. The detail Prater gives in describing the death of her son is exceptionally riveting and gets at the questions that all parents want to know when they lose their children to police violence…”what happened to my child?” Not surprisingly, the bureaucracy, legalese, and fear gets in the way of these much-needed conversations around police accountability, police behavior, police violence on its citizenry, and the use of racial profiling in communities of color, particularly African-American communities.
— Arrick Jackson, Dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Ferris State University
Justice is always unfinished until an account has been accepted by all impacted by the injustice. Prater’s well-crafted narrative illustrates a victim’s painful quest to seek offender accountability and to transform her family’s harm into growth.
— Linda Keena, PhD, interim department chair and associate professor, University of Mississippi
Written with the heart and courage of a mother and the vision of an innovative interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Loretta Prater's Excessive Use of Force: One Mother’s Struggle Against Police Brutality and Misconduct represents a searing account of the pursuit of restorative justice for her son, family, African American communities nationwide, and the entire nation. Excessive Use of Force is cutting-edge public policy scholarship that brilliantly connects rich research, thoughtful public policy insight, and relentless policy advocacy. Deeply moving and engrossing in its determination to tell a truth too long ignored, this work demonstrates that the personal is always policy-worthy. The story of Leslie Vaughn Prater is an example of a story whose time has come to be told. Using the method of triangulation, Dr. Prater weaves together an urgent call that human lives denied humanity, will always echo for justice. Chapters examining myths and reality of police brutality, reported research on personal experiences and accounts of racial profiling, a review of police departmental responses to in-custody deaths, awareness strategies, the hopeful audacity of the MOMS organization, and proactive policy strategies for police academies and the public to address misconduct, make this work a must-read for anybody and everybody whose lives have been significantly impacted by a criminal justice system greatly in need of an infusion of truth, hope, humanity, and justice Dr. Prater has provided for all of us that much needed medicine. For that, we all should be grateful.
— Zachery Williams, associate professor, University of Akron
"On January 2, 2004, several Chattanooga police officers forced Leslie Prater, who was unarmed, to the ground, handcuffed him, beat him, and held him in a hogtie position, pressing down on him until he
suffocated and died. Leslie was the first son of author Prater, who here tells the story of her fight for justice against the police department’s cover-up of the circumstances of her son’s death. In heartwrenching detail, Prater’s pain, confusion, and anger radiate from the page as she is denied access to Leslie’s body, as the press mischaracterizes the events of his death, and as she fights for his murderers to be held accountable for their horrific actions. Yet Prater, a retired professor, does not stop with this deeply personal story but uses it to make the credible argument that the lynching of black men is a practice that is alive and well. Gathering research and others’ experiences nationwide, this book packs a timely, powerful, and thought-provoking punch to the gut of anyone who believes police killings are the actions of a couple of bad apples and not a result of years of individual and systemic racism." — Alison Spanner (Feb 2018)
— Booklist, Starred Review
Prater, a retired dean of Southeast Missouri State University, shares the tragic story of the death of her son, who was killed by the police, and the steps she took to hold the police department accountable in this sound, revealing debut. On Jan. 2, 2004, Prater’s 34-year-old son Leslie, an African-American was physically restrained by … officers attempting to arrest him for public nudity, an encounter that resulted in his death by “positional asphyxia.” Though he was unarmed, Leslie was reportedly double handcuffed, pepper-sprayed, hog-tied, and held on the ground. The death was ruled accidental by the Chattanooga Police Department’s internal investigation, but Prater convincingly maintains that her son was “brutally beaten, without cause” and places his death within the larger context of police brutality against African-American men in the United States. Her family ultimately settled for $1.5 million and four demands: an external police department audit; meeting with the arresting officers; positional asphyxia training; and three sensitivity workshops for recruits that she herself led and outlines extensively in the book. The result is a winning blend of a heartsick mom’s perspective on aggressive policing with an academic’s deep dive into relevant statistics and case histories.
— Publishers Weekly