Start your day with LAist
Sign up for the Morning Brief, which is delivered on weekdays.
LA District Attorney George Gascón announced on Wednesday that an outside panel would be set up to review the fatal police shootings, which his predecessors deemed lawful.
In addition to civil rights lawyers and police practice experts, the group includes two community activists, one of whom is a member of Black Lives Matter-LA – something that is likely to cause consternation among Gascón’s critics in law enforcement and elsewhere.
The Factual Analysis Citizen Consulting Team (FACCT) will work with UC Irvine law students to review cases and determine if there is evidence to question the decision not to prosecute, according to a press release from the prosecution’s office.
“Significant concerns have been expressed by law enforcement officers, civil rights lawyers, activists and others about the handling of numerous cases of violence by the police,” Gascón said in the press release. “To restore confidence and move forward as a community, I am calling on this group to thoroughly review the evidence and make recommendations on cases that we may need to investigate further.”
During his campaign, Gascón promised to look into previous police shootings.
FACCT “identifies and prioritizes cases of use of force for review, including those where there is conflicting forensic evidence or testimony, evidence from civil or criminal proceedings, or evidence of impeachment,” the statement said.
According to the press release, the panel will not comment on whether charges should be brought against police officers and deputies of the sheriff. Instead, she submits cases to the prosecutor, who decides whether further investigation is required, the matter is assigned to a special prosecutor, or criminal charges are brought.
According to the public prosecutor’s office, there have been more than 340 fatal police shootings since 2012.
A sheriff’s deputy is currently facing voluntary manslaughter charges for fatally shooting a man in Norwalk in 2016. No other police officer has been charged with a shootout since 2000.
FACCT includes Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of UC Berkeley Law School, former Justice Department attorney Je Yon Jung, and Melanie Ochoa, senior attorney and director of police practices for the ACLU in Southern California.
It includes experts in police practice, including former Sheriff Lt. Roger Clark and Former Arlington, Texas Police Chief Theron Bowman. Also in the group: Paula Minor from Black Lives Matter-LA and longtime Chicano activist Carlos Montes.
Earlier this year, Gascón announced he was hiring Lawrence Middleton as special prosecutor to see if criminal charges against officers involved in four high-profile police shootings were warranted. However, the recruitment of the former federal prosecutor has been slowed by the district bureaucracy and the need to resolve conflicts of interest, the prosecutor said.
As a result of the delays, the statute of limitations on manslaughter charges has expired in three of the four cases that Middleton was asked to investigate.
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and the LA Police Protective League – the unions that represent MPs and LAPD officers, respectively – did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Here is the full list of FACCT members:
Civil rights activists, scientists and activists:
- Shimica Gaskins – executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund, California and former assistant assistant attorney general in the US Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy
- Je Yon Jung – Civil Rights Attorney; former senior litigator for the Civil Rights Division, the US Department of Justice, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Erwin Chemerinsky – Dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and constitutional scholar
- Barry Litt – civil attorney and partner at McLane, Bednarski and Litt, LLP
- Paula Minor – Black Lives Matter-LA organizer and activist
- Carlos Montes – activist and organizer of the Centro CSO-Chicano; Board member of Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council
- Melanie Ochoa – Senior Attorney and Police Practices Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California
- Olu Orange – director of the University of Southern California’s Dornsife Trial Advocacy Program and Agents of Change Civil Rights Advocacy Initiative; Civil Rights Attorney at Orange Law Offices, PC
- Robert Saltzman – Commissioner, Los Angeles District Probation Commission and West Hollywood Business License Commission; former Commissioner, Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners; former Assistant Dean of the USC Gould School of Law
Academic Legal Clinics / Programs:
- Professor Paul Hoffman – Director of the Civil Rights Clinic and partner at Schonbrun, DeSimone, Seplow, Harris & Hoffman, LLP
- Professor Katie Tinto – Director of the Criminal Justice Clinic and Clinical Professor of Law; Former Public Defense Attorney, Los Angeles County Alternative Public Defense Office
- Melanie Partow – lecturer, civil rights clinic and civil rights attorney
Police experts and advisers:
- Theron Bowman – former Arlington, Texas Police Chief; former Deputy City Manager / Public Safety Director of Arlington; and CEO, Theron L. Bowman Inc.
- Allwyn Brown – Former Police Chief, Richmond, California and LERT Ops perform at Tik Tok
- Roger Clark – Former Lieutenant, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and CEO, Police Practices Consultant, Inc.
- Frank Fernandez – President of Blueprints 4 Safety; former Deputy Chief and Operations Officer of the Miami Police Department; and Director of Public Safety for the City of Coral Gables