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First Civilian Oversight Board complainant sees 'no closure' in vote on her case

Clara Norise (seated) speaks to Nicolle Barton, the executive director of the Civilian Oversight Board, after the board's meeting on Sept. 19, 2016. Norise was the first person to file a complaint with the board.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

On May 12, Clara Norise made history.

On that date, Norise went to the office of the Civilian Oversight Board and became the first person to file a complaint with the board, which oversees internal affairs investigations. She alleged that a police SWAT team didn't have probable cause when it barged into her house on a drug raid earlier that month, and that it used excessive force in conducting the raid.

On Monday, the board voted not to do its own investigation of the case, and accept the punishment handed down by the Internal Affairs Division. Confidentiality rules prevent the exact nature of the punishment from being made public.

"There is absolutely no closure," Norise said. "I feel that the Civilian Oversight Board, their hands are tied. They don't really have the power to really get the kind of justice that I had hoped. I had hoped that the system would really go deep and see, 'Why were they there?'"

The board's executive director, Nicolle Barton, said she understood why Norise was frustrated.

"But it's not the end-all, once the board has voted and made a decision whether they agree or don't agree with the finding of the internal affairs division," she said. "We still have work  to do behind the scenes too that the complainant may or may not realize that we're doing."

The board has voted on four complaints, Barton said, and is waiting to finish investigating nine others.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.