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Trib Investigates Police Shootings

By Margaret Lyons in News on Dec 5, 2007 7:53PM


"Law enforcement officials at all levels, from the detectives who investigate cases to the superintendent, as well as the state's attorney's office, have failed to properly police the police." Wow. The Trib goes all out today with a massive story about police shootings, and it's extremely critical of the CPD. According to the story, "More than 100 people have been killed in the last decade; 250 others have been injured. But only a tiny fraction of shootings are ruled unjustified — less than 1 percent, police records and court testimony indicate." The story looks at the shortcomings of the investigation process, from its lack of transparency to its "hasty," not recorded roundtable sessions.

Addressing the problems isn't easy for a lot of reasons, one of which is that " [p]olice and prosecutors are 'on the same team,'" so not only do police officers not want to investigate each other, but prosecutors don't want to bring charges against them. Prosecutors do bring charges against the civilians who've been shot, though, and sometimes those charges are bogus. What the story doesn't mention is that some people shot by the police probably were committing crimes at the time they were shot — isn't that why the police were interacting with them in the first place? At least sometimes? While getting shot and getting arrested all in one night does mean you're having the worst day ever, it doesn't necessarily mean the police have done something wrong or vindictive.

Not that there aren't times when the police do things wrong. There are cases of police officers destroying evidence in officer shootings (that's when evidence is collected in the first place). Trib reporters uncovered "examples ranging from investigators misrepresenting witness statements to inaccurately reporting autopsy results to delaying for several hours Breathalyzer tests for officers suspected of being drunk," even a car being destroyed.

Are you listening, Jody Weis? We know you're not official yet, but pretty soon you're going to have to earn that $300K paycheck.

Photo by Caribb.