Former Cop: Community Control of Police Necessary to Prevent Police Shootings
Following the police killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, TRNN brings you the voices of outraged community members, relatives of Castile and Sterling, TRNN producer Eddie Conway, and former police commander Neill Franklin
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: A pair of fatal police shootings of black men have sparked outrage, protests, and demands for an end to police violence across the country. A warning to our viewers: This report contains graphic content.
NEKIMA LEVY-POUNDS: I’m tired of the laws and policies on the books being used to justify murder. It is completely unacceptable for unarmed persons to be killed at the hands of the police.
NOOR: Along with protesters, a small but vocal group of former law enforcement officers are stressing that civilian control over law enforcement is the only way to prevent police violence.
NEILL FRANKLIN: Police governance boards. That’s, that’s what we need. The community needs to have oversight of our police departments.
NOOR: In the face of mounting protests, the governor of Minnesota has called for a federal investigation into the killing of a black man after Minneapolis police fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop.
DIAMOND “LAVISH” REYNOLDS: He’s, he’s covered, they killed my boyfriend. He’s licensed, he’s carried–he’s licensed to carry. He was trying to get his ID and his wallet out, his pocket. And he let the officer know–.
MARK DAYTON: I promise that I will do everything and my administration will do everything in our power to see that this matter is brought to justice, and that all avenues are pursued to do a complete investigation. And you said before and already heard and justice, justice is served.
NOOR: Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting to Facebook. She addressed reporters Thursday morning.
REYNOLDS: They did not check for a pulse on the scene of the crime. They did not make sure that he was breathing. They instantly rushed their colleague off to the side, where they comforted him. They handcuffed us, they put us, me and my daughter, in a room, until the BCA came and questioned me, where they separated myself and my daughter. I was treated like a criminal. I was treated like I was the one who did this. They were very, very racist towards me. They treated me like this was my fault.
NOOR: The incident comes hours after the U.S. Justice Department opened an investigation into two police officers who fatally shot Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Tuesday.
Graphic video images of the shooting unleashed protest and social media outcry over the latest alleged police brutality against African-Americans across the country. Sterling’s aunt, Sandra Sterling, said she was in disbelief when she realized her nephew was dead.
SANDRA STERLING: I didn’t believe it. I came out here, and I didn’t believe it. I saw him on the ground, and I still didn’t believe it. I kept asking, “Is that my son? Is he dead?” And they said, we can’t talk to you. So I thought he was stopped down on the ground, they had him handcuffed. I didn’t know he was dead.
NOOR: The officers were responding to a call about a black man reported to have made threats with a gun. One officer shot Sterling more than five times at close range, and the other took something from his pants pockets as he was dying, according to a video obtained by the Daily Beast. Police thus far have refused to say if a gun was recovered.
STERLING: It’s hard. It’s hard. [Off-Camera: She passed out twice already.] That’s because I saw the second video. I didn’t know my child, he was alive. He was alive after he got shot. He was reaching out. It’s horrible. I don’t ever want to see that again, ever. [You saw that second video?] Yeah. [What does that second video tell you, or what does–.] That they sat there and watched my child die. They sat there and watched him take his last breath. And I’m mad and I’m angry.
NOOR: Former Black Panther, political prisoner, and current Real News Executive Producer Eddie Conway says the epidemic of police violence across the country is the result of the function of police in our society.
EDDIE CONWAY: This is the bottom line, and it’s been since the Civil War. Police and police departments primarily have been put in place to protect the property of the rich and the wealthy, and they don’t have any concern about the lives and the wellbeing of citizens down on the ground if they don’t have property or power.
NOOR: Conway says police violence can be mitigated if officers were required to be from the communities they served, and police departments were put under community control.
CONWAY: It’s very important that civilian review boards come in to control the police review boards, have the power to hire and fire police officers. Because no matter how many times you put complaints in to the review boards, if they don’t have the power to take any action other than recommending what the police departments should do, then it’s not going to change that behavior in the police department.
NOOR: Community control of police is an idea widely opposed by law enforcement, but a small but growing number of retired officers do support it, including Neill Franklin, a former 35-year law enforcement veteran, former police commander in Baltimore, and current executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
FRANKLIN: The community should be dictating the philosophy of the police department. They should be controlling the budget of the police department. You know, they should be setting those, the basic foundation and framework for how the police department operates in their community. The community should be doing that. And that’s not how it is. No, once we put a chief in place, yeah, they should hire, they should fire the chief. The community, that is, through a governance board.
NOOR: Franklin also explains why he supports independent investigations and prosecutions of police alleged with wrongdoing.
FRANKLIN: It really doesn’t make sense to have the entity that is under investigation, or involved in the incident, investigating itself. It just doesn’t make sense. But more importantly, the community nationwide has lost trust in police. We have lost trust in the departments and the investigations. And as a matter of building trust, you need to have an independent investigation.
NOOR: For all of our extensive coverage on this topic, go to TheRealNews.com. This is Jaisal Noor.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.