Jackie Lacey, district attorney of Los Angeles County, wrote a column for the Los Angeles Daily News:
When allegations of excessive force are leveled against law enforcement officers, it causes me deep concern. I understand the public's anger over what they may perceive as unjustified uses of force by those we entrust to protect us. I take these cases — and the public's demand for accountability — very seriously.
As the county's top prosecutor, it is my legal and ethical obligation to remain impartial until a rigorous and thorough investigation is completed in each and every case.
Since I took office in December 2012, there have been more than 290 officer-involved shootings throughout Los Angeles County.
My office conducts an independent investigation every time a police officer or sheriff's deputy shoots someone in the line of duty. We send our District Attorney Response Team (DART) to the scene immediately. Each team consists of an experienced prosecutor and a seasoned investigator. They are on-call 24/7 every day of the year.
We believe that being present at the scene of an officer-involved shooting reminds everyone affected — law enforcement officers, the family of the injured or deceased, witnesses and the community — that impartial prosecutors are watching.
By law and protocol, the DART team does not take over the investigation. The law enforcement agency involved must complete its own internal investigation and present its findings to our office for the possible filing of criminal charges.
After a comprehensive review of all of the evidence presented, there is only one question that we, as prosecutors, must answer: Can we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer acted unlawfully?
In every case, we issue a detailed report that summarizes the event, witness statements and our legal findings. The report is public.
Sometimes, there is confusion over the district attorney's role when a law enforcement agency finds that an officer-involved shooting was out of policy or the officer used improper tactics. Acting out of policy and using improper tactics are not crimes.
But they may — and often do — result in costly civil lawsuits. State, county and city officials may make risk-management decisions: They settle these lawsuits for large amounts of money rather than go to trial and risk multimillion-dollar jury verdicts.
Our mission to represent the people of Los Angeles County is clear and unambiguous: We apply the law and file criminal charges based solely on the facts and the law — not on emotion, anger or external pressure.
When justice is perverted and decisions are made based on anything but the evidence, such as the defendant’s social status, position in the community, education, job, power or lack of power, then we have failed and our community suffers irreparable harm.
My job is to make certain that every shooting is thoroughly reviewed in accordance with the law. To that end, I am confident that if you look at our legal analysis based on the evidence we had at the time, you will find that we made the right call in every case.
I am proud of the work we do.
You can read the entire column from the Los Angeles Daily News.