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Criminal Justice

California Attorney General Will Base One Of Two Police Shooting Investigation Teams In LA

Police barricades are lined up on the sidewalk in front of a wall embossed with a sign reading Los Angeles Police Department, Ronald F. Deaton Civic Auditorium.
LAPD Headquarters in front of City Hall.
(Chava Sanchez
/
LAist)
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California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Wednesday that his office is establishing police shooting investigation teams that will independently probe fatal law enforcement shootings of unarmed people, as required by a new state law, AB 1506.

Based in Los Angeles and Sacramento, the teams will respond to the scenes of deadly police shootings when local law enforcement notifies them that the incident may fit the requirements of the law, Bonta said at a news conference. The goal is to increase law enforcement transparency and accountability, he said.

The creation of the teams marks a shift in how deadly shootings by law enforcement are investigated. Until now, those investigations have been handled almost exclusively by local police and district attorneys.

After completing their concurrent investigation, the attorney general’s teams will forward their findings to the California Department of Justice’s Special Prosecutions Section, within the Criminal Law Division, for review. Officials there will decide whether criminal charges should be filed.

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The two teams have an initial staffing of 27 special agents and the support of forensic and other experts working for the state.

“My personal experience has been that many communities of color have experienced a loss of trust in our law enforcement ... and the goal of AB 1506 has always been to strengthen that bond of trust,” Bonta said.

The state Department of Justice estimates it will investigate roughly 50 law enforcement shootings that result in the death of an unarmed person each year.

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Robert Garrova is reporting on the intersection of mental health and law enforcement.