CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
OKLAHOMA CITY – A measure filed in the Oklahoma state House of Representatives would empower the Attorney General’s Office to investigate and prosecute officer-involved civilian fatalities.
House Bill 1319, by state Rep. Mike Shelton, would give the state Attorney General the discretion to open an investigation into any death in Oklahoma caused by a law-enforcement officer.
“This bill is a work in progress, but I hope that as the session moves along we can reach an agreement that will clearly articulate the jurisdiction of the Attorney General to intervene in these incidents that seem to be more and more commonplace,” said Shelton, D-Oklahoma City.
“The public deserves to know that an impartial, thorough investigation is going to be conducted when a law enforcement officer causes the death of a civilian. Not only does this safeguard the public, but it also reinforces the public trust in those empowered to serve and protect us.”
Shelton said he filed the measure after the Cleveland County District Attorney decided to not file charges against police officers involved in the death of a Norman man outside the Warren Theater in Moore on Feb. 14, 2014.
Luis Rodriguez, 44, died after he was restrained by officers who responded to a domestic disturbance in the theater parking lot. A video of the incident attracted nationwide attention.
“What we are trying to do is remove the politics and personal biases from the hand of justice,” said Shelton. “It is human nature to protect your own, and we have seen too often across this nation district attorneys who choose not to proceed with an investigation and potentially criminal charges when police officers are involved. This bill would take that decision out of their hands.”