Warning: Graphic Photos
May 3o, 2017 (San Diego) Assembly Bill 284 is expected to go to the full Assembly for a vote this week. The bill creates an investigative body dubbed the “Statewide Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Team.” The function of this team will be to get involved in the investigation of any officer involved shooting in local jurisdictions, where agencies request the team. This team will have three subdivisions, the northern state team, the central state team and the southern state team.
Funding for this team will come from funds adopted and approved by the legislature.
According to the executive summary:
The bill would require the unit, upon request from a local law enforcement agency or the district attorney, to investigate and gather facts in incidents involving officer-involved shootings and to prepare and submit a written report, as specified. The bill would also require the Attorney General to post and maintain on the Department of Justice’s Internet Web site each written report prepared by the Statewide Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Team unless information in the report is required by law to be kept confidential.
The weakness in this bill is immediately apparent, It will depend on the legislature approving funds, and local District Attorneys requesting the independent body. Unlike other states.
Other states are ahead of California in this respect. For example, the state of Wisconsin started with something weaker but now has written guidelines, which makes the implementation stronger. This is a collection of best practices for Wisconsin.
This bill also languisshed for the last 3 years, but is now being shepphered along by among others, Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-AD80)
We expect AB 284 to be a starting point. So do the civil rights activists who have been looking to divorce the investigation of these shootings from local District Attorneys, who are often endorsed by police. As Reverend Shane Harris, President of the National Action Network Imperial-San Diego Chapter put it. This is part of the Ida B Wells national campaign, to create indie-dented bodies at the state level, to pursue independent investigations of officer-involved shootings.
This campaign follows the acquittal of Officer Betty Shelby after she killed an unarmed man two years. ago, Terrence Crutcher. The Jury had problems reaching a decision, but after 9 hours they did. She was acquited.
This national campaign is intended to “hold these Democrats. and to hold our state attorney generals and our state governors accountable for appointing independent investigators.”
“It is our belief that local prosecutors, investigating local police, is a conflict of interest; Due to the fact that local investigators are endorsed by police.” He added that “we cannot trust the federal DOJ (Department of Justice) on these cases.”
Apollo Olango, son of Richard Olango and brother of Alfed, who died in El Cajon in an officer-involved shooting, also spoke. “We have gone through a lot in the past seven months. This is the foundation that we look forward, to step it upon in moving forward. In helping other families and individuals that may have to go through this scare opportunity. I look forwards to getting AB 284 passed. And we call upon all our assemblymen and women in Sacramento to pass that bill.”
Richard Olango also spoke and he told the story of why he came to the United States and brought his children. Part of it was to not have to bury them in Uganda. Yoweri Museveni is the current President and he is known as a human rights abuser. The photos that he showed to the media, of police torture are graphic but make the point. He did not want his children to suffer a similar fate. Instead, he buried Alfred in the United States.
For Richard, the basis of the lack of accountability for police in the United States goes four ways. Police Chiefs, Police Unions, Mayors and District Attorneys, who cover for each other. None of these wants to find an officer guilty of doing something wrong, or against training. He did not say it, but that is the thin blue line. He wants to not just see police accountability and reform in the United States, but also in his homeland of Uganda. For Richard Olango this is now a cause, one that he will dedicate his life to.
AB 284, which he emphasized repeatedly must pass, is just the first step. This is a call for this bill to pass. It is also a warning. They will track who votes for what and let communities of color know.