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New bill calls for independent investigations in police deadly force incidents

Ryan Whittaker police shooting
Posted at 5:52 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 20:35:33-05

PHOENIX — House Democratic Leader Reginald Bolding introduced legislation Monday calling for third-party oversight into a police officer’s use of deadly force.

According to Representative Bolding, there have been hundreds of officer-involved shootings over the last few years. This includes 2018 when deadly force was used 62 times in Maricopa County.

While county attorneys may have criticized the actions of individual officers, so far no police officer has been charged in a deadly force shooting.

“One thing you should not have is the same county attorney who works with a police agency to investigate themselves,” Bolding said. “That would be a pure conflict of interest in any other realm and we can’t do that when cases matter this much.”

Representative Bolding’s bill calls for deadly force shootings to be investigated by either the attorney general or another county attorney not directly involved in the case.

Bolding says the bill has bipartisan support in the legislature.

It's also picked up the endorsement of Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

In a statement to ABC15, Brnovich said, ”Transparency and accountability should not be partisan issues. Our law enforcement officers work hard to protect us each day and they are required to make split+-second decisions in the line of duty. It is in everyone’s best interest to maintain public confidence in the investigations following officer-involved shootings.”

In the aftermath of the George Floyd killing by a Minneapolis police officer last June, Brnovich wrote a letter to Governor Doug Ducey, Senate President Karen Fann and Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers requesting all law enforcement agencies require de-escalation training.