Group: Change officer-involved shooting policy

June 2, 2010 2:54:34 AM PDT
A group of community organizations says some police officers may be committing crimes of their own while protecting the community. It's concerned about the high number of officer-involved shootings and today, it will go before city council to ask for changes.

The group says the problem is not only the rising number of police-involved shootings, but the lack of transparency around the investigations after the shootings. And that's something they want the mayor to change.

When John Barnes was shot and killed by an off-duty Houston police officer last August, he became one of 15 people killed by HPD in 2009, according to the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice.

A grand jury cleared Officer Ryan Gardiner of any wrongdoing, but the coalition says that's not enough.

"Anything is always possible when you can't see," said Randall Kallinen with the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice. "We're just asking, can we please see?"

Last week, the coalition sent a letter to Houston Mayor Annise Parker, asking for changes in the way the police deal with officer-involved shootings.

"My understanding is there's going to be a revision or revisit in the citizens' police committee, and we want to put some teeth on it," said Johnny Mata with the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice.

Those changes include more minorities on the citizen's police committee, and the power to subpoena officers, victims and witnesses.

Our calls to the mayor's office were not returned, but coalition members hope the mayor's new administration and new police chief mean change is on the way.

"This is about transparency and openness in government," Kallinen said.

The coalition is made up of a number of other organizations, including the NAACP, LULAC and the Organization of Chinese Americans.


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