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Supreme Court rules officers can be compelled to testify about killings – Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington 2021-07-24 04:30:00 –

In a joint lawsuit against King County, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in favor of the families of Charina Lyles, Damarius Butts, and Isaiah Obet, who were killed by police.

The Supreme Court ruled on July 15 that police officers who killed their families could be forced to testify about the killings during a coroner’s inquest. Obets, Lyles and Butts were all of color.

A coroner’s cause of death hearing is required by county law whenever a police officer kills someone on the job. According to the county website, the purpose of this investigation is to shed light on the facts surrounding law enforcement murder.

A rule that forces police to testify about the killings was created by an executive order issued in 2018 by King County statute Dow Constantine. Several cities, including Auburn, and the King County Sheriff’s Office have sued Constantine on his executive order. The King County Superior Court invalidated Constantine’s rules before the case was brought to the Supreme Court.

In addition to forcing police officers to testify in court about their killings, the Supreme Court said the inquest jury could determine whether police officers acted by criminal means. Were determined.

However, if a jury decides that a police officer has acted by criminal means, that does not necessarily mean that the police officer will be held criminally liable, regarding the King County Public Defender’s proactive proceedings and policies. Special counsel La Rondo Baker said.

Auburn police officer Jeffrey Nelson fatally shot Isaiah Obet once in the torso and once in the head in 2017. ..

The ruling means that each death hearing can be resumed.

“The police investigating the police don’t work,” said Amy Parker, a lawyer representing Obet’s family. “This investigation could be a useful tool for investigating the police killings of community members, but the panel needs to answer whether police officers have committed crimes to make the process toothy. Yes, this was intended by the state council and is consistent with the basic and historical purpose of the cause of death inquiry. “

Auburn, Federal Way, Renton, and Kent all sought to thwart the family’s ability to demand testimony from police, according to a press release from the King County National Defense Agency.

“The coroner’s cause of death hearing is an important feature of Washington’s state and local law,” Judge Debra Stevens said in a judgment. “They enable members of the community to conduct a thorough and transparent public death investigation, including when individuals such as Damarius Butts, Isaiah Obe, and Charina Lyles are shot dead by police. increase.”

The coroner’s cause of death hearing is open to the public.


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