Lawmaker Calls on PA Legislator to Facilitate Attorney General’s Investigation of Police Murders – The Morning Call

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The Pennsylvania lawmaker is urging the legislature to take action on a bill that will make it easier for the state’s attorney general to investigate police use of lethal force, which he said would “restore confidence in law enforcement.”

The law, introduced by state senator Art Haywood (D-Montgomery), will require district prosecutors to investigate the death of people killed by the police without the involvement of the officers’ office.

If the district attorney decided not to prosecute the officer, under the proposed legislation he would have to refer the case to the Attorney General of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania law allows district attorneys to ask the state attorney general’s office to investigate a case if, for example, they believe there is an “actual or apparent” conflict of interest. Law enforcement experts have previously told Spotlight PA that the conflict is inherent because of the close relationship between district attorneys and police.

But the Attorney General’s Office cannot launch an investigation without the signature of the district attorney on the go.

Haywood said his bill would address the “appearance of bias” that undermines trust in law enforcement. He referred to the investigation into the recent killings of police officers, including the killings of Fr. Anton Rose II outside of Pittsburgh, Ricardo Munoz in Lancaster, and Christian Hall in Pakanas.

Spotlight PA and NBC News previously received a video showing Hall – a 19-year-old Chinese American experiencing a mental health crisis – kept his hands in the air when state police shot him in 2020.

Soldiers from local barracks investigated the killing and passed the findings to the Monroe County Attorney, who found it justified. Hall’s parents publicly asked the Monroe County Attorney to refer the case to the Attorney General, but the prosecutor’s office did not.

Hall’s parents sued, accusing the military of using excessive force and misleading the population.

“Our law enforcement system requires public trust,” Haywood told a news conference Monday in the state’s Capitol, surrounded by supporters of the bill, including the libertarian propaganda group Americans for Prosperity.

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The bill, which has 10 co-sponsors from the Democratic Party but does not support Republicans, awaits consideration in the Senate Law and Justice Committee in January. When he was approached at the Capitol on Monday, state Sen. Mike Regan (R-York), who chairs the committee, said he was unaware of the bill.

Haywood first introduced a version of the law in 2015 after police killed Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri.

The original bill required the Attorney General to investigate all police killings, but Haywood said the provision was removed from that version to increase the likelihood of its adoption.

Pennsylvania Citizens’ Law Advisory Commission, a group convened by Gov. Tom Wolfe to review the actions and policies of state police agencies earlier this year recommended an independent police investigation into the killings in response to a 2016 shooting by state police. Department defended his current trial to the committee.

Haywood noted during a news conference that USA Today Software Edition “Challenged” the state legislature to pass his bill, and he said he hoped it would affect.

“I’m committed to the Pennsylvania law enforcement system,” Haywood said. “Citizens deserve it, law enforcement deserves to have a trusted system.”

Christina Baker is an intern at the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association. Learn more about the program. Spotlight PA is funded by basics and readers like you who are committed to accountable journalism that yields results.

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