Law Would Create Independent Prosecutor for Deadly Cop Shootings

Many of those unhappy with the police shooting of 25-year-old Ezell Ford in South Los Angeles last summer have also decried the process for determining whether or nor the cops involved were justified.

In the case of Ford's death, the Los Angeles Police Department chief and the LAPD's inspector general secretly determined the cops were justified. The L.A. Police Commission then found fault yesterday with the actions of both lawmen.

"The process is clearly biased," Melina Abdullah of Black Lives Matter told us yesterday.

A state lawmaker is trying to fix the process with a bill, AB 86, that would create an attorney general–appointed special prosecutor who would be empowered to look into deadly officer-involved shootings statewide.

The office of the lawmaker behind AB 86, Sacramento area Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, explains that the active legislation would "require that any officer-involved shooting that results in the death of a civilian must be reviewed" by an independent prosecutor.

L.A.'s Association of Deputy District Attorneys isn't having it, however.

You see, it's the job of the District Attorney's Office to investigate possible criminal wrongdoing when cops kill on the job. You could argue that deputy district attorneys are too cozy with cops, however, since they work together to prosecute bad guys.

But you have to give it to L.A.'s latest top DA, Jackie Lacey. She's not afraid of prosecuting badges; she's been doing so with surprising frequency lately.

However, this state of affairs appears to hinge on who we happen to vote for. Who knows? The next DA might go back to singing "Kumbaya" with cops.

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys said in a statement this week that we can trust local prosecutors to get the job done:

AB 86 accepts the false notion that local district attorneys cannot be entrusted with evaluating cases in which a civilian dies after interaction with the police ... 

AB 86 is bad public policy, plain and simple. It will set in motion a chain of events where police know that their actions will be scrutinized by an "independent" prosecutor, a position created by political pressure to go after the police. This "independent prosecutor" won't be independent at all but will face public pressure to charge, and instead of making the just decision up front whether to file or not, will instead choose to let a jury decide if an officer's action was criminal. 

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The group argues that the DA's office is too large — with 1,000 deputies — to create conflicts that might arise from working closely with cops day-to-day.

McCarty says his law would "create trust between the police and  the community."

"District attorneys will no longer have to worry about investigating the police with whom they work so closely," he says. "No one should be able to police themselves."

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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