Twitter is afire with live feeds, video, and photos. Announcing the verdict at *night* was not a good idea. And then of course there’s the inevitable “even more terrible idea than looting”, over-reaction mislabeled as necessity leading to predictable results, and the wonderfully tone-deaf response of the official.
Amnesty International folks shot with rubber bullets and tear gassed.
Aside from the grand jury question, it is difficult for a jury to return a verdict “beyond a reasonable doubt” when the person upon whom they are passing judgement is a member of the organization that investigates their wrongdoing. The ?#?Ferguson? situation is not unique. Police can fail to adequately investigate officer-involved shootings, fail to interview witnesses before they’ve been interviewed by journalists, which can taint their testimony, fail to gather physical evidence, etc.
The weak spot in the security chain is that there isn’t really anything that can be done if the local police flub the investigation (intentionally or not). This is certainly the case here.
The way to solve this problem is to have an outside agency perform an audit after every officer-involved shooting. The DoJ through the FBI or the Secret Service spring to mind as possible candidates. They investigate the investigation.
Should the shooting incident or the investigation immediately thereafter fail to follow proper investigation procedures, as documented by the police department, strong consequences follow. What sort of strong consequences? Something along the lines of, “every person in the chain of command from the head of the department down to the officer involved in the shooting… the entire tree of command that ends in that officer… is immediately discharged, their contracts canceled, their pension contributions returned, their authorities revoked, and they can never work in law enforcement again in any state of the Union, nor be issued a permit to carry a firearm.”
You can bet that every incident of a police shooting will be rigorously investigated immediately thereafter and forever more, because the chief of police does not want his or her job to go “poof”. The question of whether or not a department covers up possible abuse of power will be much less an open question, certainly. This has to stop.
We can’t live in a country where the rules of engagement for the police dealing with our own citizenry are laughably lax when compared to the rules of engagement of our troops in a war zone.
[Picture via WIki Commons]
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