A Joint Press Release from the ACLU of Nevada and other community groups:
The two recent officer involved shootings of Trevon Cole and Erik Scott have motivated local community groups, victims families, and citizen’s to come together to address the coroner’s inquest process. The groups are seeking reform to the process that has come under fire in the past, most recently in 2007.
“The Trevon Cole case raises serious questions – from the false affidavit to whether a ‘furtive’ movement should be enough to justify a shooting by officers. The coroner’s inquest process does not provide for the kind of transparency needed to adequately evaluate the questions about the shooting. It needs to be reformed to get rid of conflicts of interest, and to allow victims’ families to ask questions. Police officers have a tough job, but they work for the public and the public has a right to transparency and to evaluate incidents where police officers kill members of the public,” said Maggie McLetchie, an attorney with the ACLU of Nevada.
In 2007, the Clark County Commission responded to the increase in the number of police officer-involved shootings by meeting with community stakeholders and holding a series of public meetings in order to gather information and review possible changes to the coroner’s inquest process. Some changes were made, but the coroner’s inquest process does not allow for full transparency and raises conflict of interest issues. The District Attorney serves as the “neutral presenter of facts.” Representatives of the victim’s family and other interested parties may submit questions to be asked, but the presiding officer is not required to ask them. The recent shootings have sparked renewed interest in the process and demands for more transparency and fairness.
“Police protection and a safe community are important to all of us, in all parts of the valley. When an incident occurs, the victim’s family and the community share in the desire and need to receive a fair, transparent and truthful investigation. Today, even with the changes from 2007, this process is still in need of improvement. There in nothing in the 2007 changes that allow for an open and transparent process. Why would there be any unasked questions? The Erik Scott family right now has nothing but unanswered questions. How and when in this process do they get answers? Reading questions outside the presence of the very jury that is charged with finding the truth seems absurd? ” said Lisa Mayo-DeRiso, family spokesperson.
In response to the Trevon Cole shooting and the inquest to be held on Friday, August 20th, the League of Action is holding several community events. On August 19th, at the Greater New Jerusalem NBC, located at 1100 D. Street at 6:00 pm there will be a preparation meeting for all interested citizens who want to participate in the Trevon Cole gathering in front of the Regional Justice Center on Friday August 20th. Those who want to join in the gathering on Friday should arrive at 6:30 a.m. Then, on August 30th at the Greater New Jerusalem NBC, at 6:00 p.m., there will be a Community and Complaint Forum. This is an open meeting for citizens to attend who want to know more about their civil rights when they interact with Metro.
The spokesperson for League of Action, Wendell P. Williams commented, “We stand ready to team up with this broad group of concerned organization to address the issues of the coroner’s inquest, police use of force policies, and overall citizens’ rights.”
Gina Greisen, a spokesperson for Justice for Trevon Cole said, “The fact that two shootings occurred within weeks of one another, while and both unfortunate incidents involve our police department, has exposed all of us to the process we have adopted as a community to investigate these shootings. If there was ever a perfect storm for change, I think this is the time. The fact that there are upcoming elections is an opportune time to bring forth a new ordinance.”