Welcome news to anyone who believes violent cops should be held accountable for their actions: some prosecutors around the country are re-opening the old cases of cops who got away with murder.
The New York Times reports that a wave of reform-minded district attorneys who were elected as public opinion on police culpability shifted is now demonstrating that they understand their assignment very well. They’re taking new looks at cases in which cops were given passes for violent behavior by old DAs who had cozy relationships with police departments.
From the New York Times
Now, in the aftermath of protests over racial justice and police abuse, new prosecutors are taking a previously rare step: They are reopening investigations into all three deadly car stops, asking whether the use of force was justified or if the officers should face criminal charges.
District attorneys in Democratic precincts around the country have been re-examining other old use-of-force cases, too — including 340 killings in Los Angeles County alone. They are promising a sharp break from the traditionally close relationship between the police and prosecutors that critics say has long shielded officers from accountability.
In other words: they plan to actually do their jobs. Of course, police unions and some more conservative prosecutors are still making the same old excuses for cops who they have no desire to hold accountable, arguing that reopening police misconduct cases “demoralizes” officers and makes it more difficult to recruit new cops.
From the New York Times
“To go back and open up all the cases, because you have an absolute grudge against police officers and you’re trying to carry a badge of honor — ‘Look at me, look at me, I’m going to prosecute police officers, I’m going to hold them accountable’ — is turning the table completely upside down,” said Todd Spitzer, the district attorney of Orange County, Calif. A Republican, he is an outspoken supporter of the union-backed campaign to recall his Democratic counterpart in nearby Los Angeles.
“These counties where the ‘woke D.A.s’ are elected,” Mr. Spitzer said, “they are utterly destroying police morale. They are making it impossible to recruit police.”
Which, of course, is nonsense. Given how rare it is that cops are convicted when they’re caught red-handed, cops who aren’t wrongfully shooting, assaulting or harassing people don’t have much to worry about. And since cities pay out millions in settlements for cops who shoot people, if someone decides they’d rather not be a cop because they fear facing the same justice as any criminal they might arrest, it’s probably better if they never get anywhere near a badge or gun.