Bill would require independent panel to investigate civilian shootings
(SACRAMENTO, CA) - Under legislation introduced today, cases like those of Eric Garner and Michael Brown in California would be investigated by a state independent law enforcement panel rather than a local district attorney. AB 86 (McCarty, D-Sacramento) would require that any officer-involved shooting that results in the death of a civilian must be reviewed by an independent law enforcement panel established within the California Department of Justice. The bill further requires the results of the investigation be submitted to the district attorney where the incident occurred, and the Attorney General.
“For far too long there has been a cloud of confusion surrounding police shootings, now is the time for California to be a leader on this issue. The creation of an independent police review panel is a common sense solution which will create trust between the police the community,” said Assemblymember McCarty. “District attorneys will no longer have to worry about investigating the police with whom they work so closely. No one should be able to police themselves.”
In California, local jurisdictions can choose to set up a civilian commission to review cases, but many locations do not choose to do so, mainly citing cost. In Sacramento County, as a result of budget cuts the civilian commission was shut down for several years. Locally, and nationally, these incidents continue to be an issue of concern. On January 25th, 2014, Parminder Singh Shergill, a 43 year old mentally ill Gulf War veteran, was fatally shot by Lodi police. The two officers involved in the shooting were investigated and later cleared by the San Joaquin District Attorney’s office, which works directly with the Lodi Police Department on a regular basis. It has caused a significant rift between members of the community and the police. An independent review panel would help foster increased trust in the community for incidents like Mr. Shergill’s by providing a transparent and independent process.
Other States, notably Wisconsin, have looked for solutions. AB 409 was signed by Governor Walker in April 2014; it requires an independent investigation whenever a civilian is killed by a police officer.
CONTACT: Bryan Singh, (916) 319-2007