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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: August 4, 2020 08:51 AM
From: Senator Art Haywood
To: All Senate members
Subject: Independent Investigations of Deadly Force Incidents
In the near future, I will introduce legislation to require an independent investigation of any deadly force incident by police officers.
Our criminal justice system is meant to be impartial and without the presence or appearance of bias or conflicts of interest.  However, the events following the tragic death of Antwon Rose in Pittsburgh, George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and many similar cases around the country have shown that in certain circumstances, there is the appearance of conflict in the investigation of a police-involved killing that can lead the public to believe that justice is not being dispensed fairly.

This legislation requires an independent investigation of any officer involved deadly force incident by the county district attorney or the district attorney’s designee, not the police department where the killing happened. This ensures the police department being investigated for deadly force will not conduct the criminal investigation of its own officers. A county district attorney also may refer prosecution of the case to another district attorney. If following the investigation a district attorney decides not to prosecute, it must submit a final report to the Attorney General for its review to determine if it should prosecute. Additionally, my bill requires a post-investigative root cause review process. Similar to what’s done with child fatality reports, a team will investigate the root causes of the deadly force incident, publish findings and make recommendations for legal or administrative changes.
My legislation modifies my Senate Bill 611 to focus on investigations. It is clear trust must be repaired, as protests are erupting all over the state in the wake of George Floyd’s death. We must restore the public’s faith.

Please join me in sponsoring this critical legislation for all citizens in the Commonwealth.