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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: February 23, 2015 09:15 AM
From: Representative Brian Sims
To: All House members
Subject: Special Prosecutor in Police Deadly Force Cases
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that would require a special prosecutor to handle cases involving the use of deadly force by police officers.

My legislation, which mirrors Senator Haywood’s SB 400, requires the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor when a peace officer, in the course of his or her duties, is involved in an incident in which an individual has died as a result of the officer’s conduct. The impartial special prosecutor would have the authority to investigate and prosecute such incidents in place of a district attorney.

Unfortunately, public confidence in our nation’s criminal justice system has been damaged in the wake of incidents involving the police using deadly force in Missouri and New York. Though a close working relationship between district attorneys and police officers can help facilitate criminal justice, it can also create the appearance of conflict when a district attorney is called upon to investigate the actions of a police officer. Placing such investigations in the hands of a special prosecutor is not intended to call into question the impartiality of district attorneys, but is instead intended to introduce an outside perspective into the case. In fact, this legislation gives special prosecutors the power to consult with district attorneys in the county where the alleged offense occurred.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation so that we may help bolster our citizens’ confidence in Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system.

Introduced as HB936