Bill would require Attorney General to appoint special prosecutor to investigate civilian shootings
(SACRAMENTO, CA) - Today, the Assembly Committee on Public Safety passed AB 86 (Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento) on a vote of 5 to 2. This bill requires the Attorney General (AG) to appoint a special prosecutor to conduct the investigation, when a police shooting where a civilian death occurs. The bill further requires the special prosecutor to have the authority to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.
“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 appointment of a special prosecutor is a common sense solution which will increase trust between the police and the community,” said Assemblymember McCarty. “District attorneys will no longer have to worry about investigating the police with whom they work so closely with. No one should be able to police themselves.”
In the aftermath of high profile cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and a local case of the shooting death of Parminder Singh Shergill in Lodi, there has been a public outcry for an increased level of oversight of police involved shootings. 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.
In March 2015, the “President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing,” released an interim report with recommendations and action items in order to strengthen community policing and trust among law enforcement and the communities they serve. The report calls for creating a culture of transparency and eliminating or minimizing bias or influence for law enforcement agencies. In a similar vein, AB 86 follows a key recommendation in order to create a better and more transparent system regarding police shootings that is fair to police, families, and the community in order to restore public trust.