The Dallas Police Department has discontinued its policy of waiting 72 hours to interview officers involved in police shootings.
The announcement came late Thursday as part of the department’s response to a 14-point list of demands made by the Next Generation Action Network. The group has railed against police brutality nationwide and called locally for more community oversight in officer-involved shootings.
“Effective immediately, every officer will be provided the same legal rights as any other citizen who is the subject of a criminal investigation,” the department said in a statement.
Dallas Police discontinue policy of 72hr wait to interview officers following OIS incidents. pic.twitter.com/w9NQBA2u4O
— Maj. Max Geron (@MaxDPD) August 19, 2016
The department’s policy had given officers 72 hours before they were asked to make a formal statement to detectives in the special investigations unit, which studies all assaults and shootings involving police officers.
The department essentially conducts two investigations after an officer fires his or her weapon: internal and criminal.
After the special investigations unit completes its investigation, the case is sent to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, which then presents it to a grand jury. The grand jury determines whether the officer should be criminally charged.
The internal affairs division also investigates the shooting to see if the officer violated the department’s policies. It is possible for an officer to avoid criminal charges but still face discipline within the department.
When the 72-hour policy, which also gave officers the right to view any available video before providing a statement about such incidents, was instituted in 2013, Chief David Brown said it would “help improve the investigation of our most critical incidents.”
It was introduced soon after surveillance video went public showing an officer shooting a mentally ill man for no apparent reason – contrary to a witnessing officer’s account that led to a felony charge against the victim.
Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston said he told the leaders of the Next Generation Action Network in the past that officers aren’t required to give any formal statement to detectives in criminal cases but they often do.
Just as any person involved in an assault or shooting, officers have the right to an attorney and to remain silent. Cops don’t have fewer rights just because they wear a uniform, Pinkston said.
“The cops have Constitutional rights just like everyone else,” said attorney Robert Rogers, a lawyer for the Dallas Police Association.
Internal affairs investigators can require officers involved in shootings to give statements, but those statements can’t be presented to a grand jury.
The 72-hour policy had met with rising opposition from groups including Next Generation Action Network and Campaign Zero, both of which have been pushing the department to change practice.
Shooting suspects weren’t given time to revise their stories before talking to police, NGAN said, and officers shouldn’t be an exception.
In recent weeks, NGAN has held several public demonstrations and marches in downtown Dallas calling for reform. The group helped organize a peaceful protest July 7 that ended in the deadly ambush and killing of five Dallas police officers.
Attorney Kim Cole, who represents the group, said detectives often say the first 48 hours after an incident is crucial to solving a case. Giving officers more time to answer questions could compromise an investigation into a shooting by police, she said.
“If you don’t get fresh information in that moment, you lose the integrity of that information,” Cole said.
Other demands from the group included ending quotas for tickets and arrests, which the department said it does not have, and reviewing community policing efforts and use-of-force policies, both of which the department said it already does on a regular basis.
Staff writer Tasha Tsiaperas contributed to this report.
Bodycam video released of Andre Leshon Lee who lost consciousness when arrested but died 5 days later in Dallas PD custody, Report
The Dallas Police Department has released a video of Andre Leshon Lee who they say lost consciousness shortly after being taken into custody on August 28. The video released clearly shows he lost consciousness at the site where he was arrested.
The report goes on to say Lee died September 2 in police custody a week after losing consciousness. Something doesn’t add up here.
According to Fox 4 the investigation by Dallas police into Lee’s death, he and his wife were driving the night of August 28, when his wife said he got out of the car and started running.
NGAN President attacked by Black Trump Supporter in Dallas
Dale Hansen Unplugged: ‘We need the good cops to call out the bad cops.’
Jacob Black was unarmed. I don’t care what Jacob Blake did or didn’t do, I don’t care. He’s unarmed, and that police officer shoots him in the back at least seven times in front of his three young children who were in the car. That cop should go to prison, but I doubt he will.
And yet, there are a lot of you who are only mad because the NBA won’t play their games for your entertainment Wednesday night.