On Tuesday, I added my voice to the growing chorus arguing that local prosecutors should be recused from all police violence cases. It was hardly an original idea; after all, a bill had been introduced by two Democratic Congressmen seven months ago to pressure states to adopt this standard. The bill is reportedly “gaining steam” since Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty revealed on Monday how he gamed the grand jury process in the Tamir Rice case.
Congressmen Steve Cohen and Lacy Clay introduced H.R. 2302, the Police Training and Independent Review Act, in May. The Act (which would primarily “incentivize States to enact laws requiring the independent investigation and prosecution of the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers”) was quickly backed by the NAACP, and it currently has 53 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Chicago Tribune endorsed it in an editorial last week.
“We need reform. Asking local prosecutors to investigate the same local police with whom they work so closely is a conflict of interest,” Cohen said in a statement Tuesday. “Even if they handle such investigations appropriately, there will continue to be a perception of bias.”
Additionally, the two Cleveland cops involved in Tamir’s death may still face prosecution—not from Cuyahoga County, but from the city. Longtime Cleveland councilman Jeffrey Johnson sent a letter on Wednesday to the city law director requesting a full review of the case.
Read the councilman’s letter below, then listen to an interview with St. Louis-area attorney Pamela Meanes on this topic.