D.A. forms team to investigate use-of-force incidents

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — District Attorney George Gascón has announced the formation of an independent team to reexamine fatal use-of-force incidents by law enforcement and recommend further action when appropriate.

Significant concerns have been raised by law enforcement officials, civil rights attorneys, activists and others regarding the handling of numerous police use-of-force cases,” Gascón said.In order to restore trust and move forward as a community, I am convening this group to thoroughly review the evidence and make recommendations on cases that we may need to examine more closely.”

The Factual Analysis Citizen Consulting Team is a group composed of civil rights attorneys, scholars and constitutional police practices experts who will identify, prioritize and review use-of-force cases, including those in which there is contrary forensic evidence or witness testimony, evidence from a civil or criminal case or impeachment evidence.

Once cases have been identified, the team will work with UC Irvine law students, who will review case files and make presentations to team members on their findings. The group also will be assisted by students from USC’s Dornsife Trial Advocacy Program.

Team members will not offer opinions on whether charges should be filed. Instead, the team will present findings and additional evidence that may be contrary to the prior decision to decline to prosecute.

The District Attorney’s Office will ultimately decide whether additional investigation is necessary, if the matter should be assigned to a special prosecutor or if criminal charges are filed.

There may be compelling or dispositive confidential or otherwise unavailable evidence that the team will not review.

Until there is a standard that mandates a shooting is lawful when it is absolutely necessary and the last resort, we are going to continue to have unnecessary shootings that cause public outcry and skepticism,” Gascón said.

We eventually need to create legislation that gives the county the ability to create a separate entity that can independently review these cases.”

Gascón first announced his intention to launch the team in a letter he sent to the county’s police chiefs on the day of his inauguration in December.

The team will rely on the individuals listed in three categories below:

Civil rights attorneys, scholars and activists include Shimica Gaskins, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund California, and former acting deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy of the U.S. Department of Justice; Je Yon Jung, civil rights attorney; former senior trial attorney for the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, and constitutional scholar; Barry Litt, civil rights attorney and partner at McLane, Bednarski and Litt; Paula Minor, Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles organizer and activist; Carlos Montes, Centro CSO-Chicano activist and organizer; Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council board member; Melanie Ochoa, senior staff attorney for Criminal Justice and Police Practices, American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California; Olu Orange, director of the USC Dornsife Trial Advocacy Program and Agents of Change Civil Rights Advocacy Initiative; civil rights attorney at Orange Law Offices, P.C.; Robert Saltzman, commissioner, Los Angeles County Probation Oversight Commission and West Hollywood Business License Commission; former commissioner, Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners; former associate dean, USC Gould School of Law.

Academic law clinics/programs members will include Professor Paul Hoffman, director Civil Rights Clinic and partner at Schonbrun, DeSimone, Seplow, Harris, & Hoffman; Professor Katie Tinto, director Criminal Justice Clinic and Clinical Professor of Law; former public defender, Alternate Public Defender’s Office of Los Angeles County; Melanie Partow lecturer, Civil Rights Clinic and civil rights attorney.

Police practices experts and advisors include Theron Bowman, former chief of police Arlington, Texas; former deputy city manager/director public safety for Arlington; and CEO, Theron L. Bowman Inc.; Allwyn Brown, former chief of police, Richmond, California and LERT Ops lead at Tik Tok; Roger Clark, former lieutenant, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and CEO, Police Practices Consultant; Frank Fernandez, president of Blueprints 4 Safety; former deputy chief and chief of operations for Miami Police Department; and former public safety director for Coral Gables, Florida.

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