/Tempers flare at police shooting meeting, delaying final report

Tempers flare at police shooting meeting, delaying final report

Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba formed a 13-member task force in April. They met at the Richard Porter Building downtown in order to finalize a policy. It requires that the city release within 72 hours the name of any officer involved in a shooting. There have been many discussions about how to describe the victims of police shootings while on duty. Options have ranged from civilian, participant to suspect. The task force’s efforts to refine the policy through a series of meetings has revealed a tension between transparency in the interest of a skeptical public and the need for law enforcement officials to remain independent in ongoing investigations. Is process more important that people? Adofo Minka (a Jackson attorney and community activist) arrived midway through Monday’s meeting. Although the task force is focused on information release following a police shooting incident, many members of the public, including few who attended Monday’s meeting, said that the task force was lacking input from the families of those killed by police. They also claimed that the task force’s focus is reactive and puts police safety ahead of the lives of those injured by the police. The overwhelming majority of police officers who were shot in Jackson are African Americans. Jackson has an 80 percent African population. Joseph Jordan, another attendee said that the policy lacks community accountability. He suggested that restorative justice should be emphasized, which is a model where parties are brought to peace through community mediation. Jordan stated that he heard about compromising investigations. “And I hear that Antar (Lumumba the mayor) and Chief of Police can decide what is best for us to view and what is not. What about the families of those who are killed by police? What about the families of those who were killed by police? Where is their voice and what weight does it have compared to people who support police: Antar, Antar’s minions and the chief of police? The task force was originally created after reports from the Jackson Free Press reporter Ko Bragg. It has spent the summer listening to local stakeholders such as Robert Shuler Smith, Hinds County District Attorney, before drafting initial language after policies like the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s. The proposed policy states that the city would release names of officers involved within 72 hours “absent exigent circumstances like a credible threat to an individual officer”. The possibility that an officer was working undercover at the time could be considered exceptional circumstances. A three-member panel of municipal judges and one community member would decide if there was a credible threat. The city will issue a statement about the timeline and the process of the investigation after notifying both civilians and police officers concerned. * The city will not release the criminal history of civilians killed by police officers. In past meetings, taskforce members acknowledged that such information was already publicly available and that media outlets cannot block access to it. Here’s some video of last night’s contentious police officer ID task force meeting in Jackson — @MSTODAYnews pic.twitter.com/gt12zoMWMN — Michelle Liu (@mchelleliu) August 28, 2018 The task force was in the process of hammering down another central point — how and whether to release any footage of such a shooting — when several Jackson residents entered the room and began to question not the policy’s language, but the substance and purpose of the policy itself. Eric Stanton (a Jackson police officer who was part of the task force) stated that justice should be our ultimate goal. “If we release video that compromises an investigative, it’s wrongheaded. Jordan asked for information about any family members or close friends of those who had been killed or brutalized by police. Both the task force members and the public raised their hands. Jordan went on to attack the task force, describing it as an extension Lumumba’s administration. It was yet another body that controls narrative after an officer-involved shooting. C.J. quickly lost control of the meeting and it was chaotic. C.J. soon intervened to restore order to the meeting. Lawrence, the task force chairperson and former law partner to the mayor, did not attempt to close public comments. Lawrence stated to the room that “We’re trying to do something which hasn’t already been addressed across the country.” “We’re trying to do something that hasn’t been addressed around the country,” Lawrence stated to the room. As the meeting drew near to 8 p.m., the scheduled adjournment time, taskforce members tried to debate whether releasing video might jeopardize ongoing investigations. However, Jordan, Minka, and others maintained the belief that such an investigation would not bring justice to the table. The release of the final report by the task force was rescheduled for Sept. 6._x000D