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Thread: Inquest proper in questionable police shootings

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    Inquest proper in questionable police shootings

    Inquest proper in questionable police shootings

    We screen them, we train them, they are sworn in and entrusted with a badge and gun, given awesome responsibility, considerable authority that is supposed to be tempered with discretion, and in the event they take a human life, they are subjected to a remarkable degree of scrutiny to assure they acted properly, deciding perhaps in a split second to commit an act that will be examined by a committee that has the luxury of time.

    http://www.examiner.com/gun-rights-i...lice-shootings

    Or try this:

    http://tinyurl.com/2au8vqu

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    Good Article

    I particularily like the idea of a panel discussing police interaction.

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    Regular Member maclean's Avatar
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    In King County, they are automatic - not just proper.

    Do other counties do them?
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    Regular Member Contrarian's Avatar
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    Exclamation inquest

    Under earlier reviews, it was stated that a review board would contain two non-voting civilians to look at the shooting... I think the inquest is a better approach.
    Something in this case doesn't fit.

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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post

    Do other counties do them?
    Countries that were at one time under the control of England or were greatly influenced by the English use the office of Coroner which existed in England since medieval times. The UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, are among them.

    At one time the Coroner was responsible for determining if charges were to be brought after an Inquest. Today we mostly use Medical Examiners to find the facts and whether to charge falls to the Prosecutor.

    Most other countries leave the investigation and decision to bring charges to the Police and Courts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by amlevin View Post
    Countries that were at one time under the control of England or were greatly influenced by the English use the office of Coroner which existed in England since medieval times. The UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, are among them.

    At one time the Coroner was responsible for determining if charges were to be brought after an Inquest. Today we mostly use Medical Examiners to find the facts and whether to charge falls to the Prosecutor.

    Most other countries leave the investigation and decision to bring charges to the Police and Courts.

    Levin: He asked about other counties, not countries....
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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by devildoc5 View Post
    Levin: He asked about other counties, not countries....
    Hey when you get to my age vision and memory are the 2nd and 3rd things to go.



    Referring to Washington COUNTIES now,

    36.24.020
    Inquests.
    Any coroner, in his or her discretion, may hold an inquest if the coroner suspects that the death of a person was unnatural, or violent, or resulted from unlawful means, or from suspicious circumstances, or was of such a nature as to indicate the possibility of death by the hand of the deceased or through the instrumentality of some other person: PROVIDED, That, except under suspicious circumstances, no inquest shall be held following a traffic death.

    The coroner in the county where an inquest is to be convened pursuant to this chapter shall notify the superior court to provide persons to serve as a jury of inquest to hear all the evidence concerning the death and to inquire into and render a true verdict on the cause of death. Jurors shall be selected and summoned in the same manner and shall have the same qualifications as specified in chapter 2.36 RCW. The prosecuting attorney having jurisdiction shall be notified in advance of any such inquest to be held, and at his or her discretion may be present at and assist the coroner in the conduct of the same. The coroner may adjourn the inquest from time to time as he or she may deem necessary.

    The costs of inquests shall be borne by the county in which the inquest is held.

    Many Counties in Washington use the Medical Examiner rather than the old elected office of Coroner:

    http://www.dahp.wa.gov/pages/Archaeo...s-Coroners.pdf

    I can't say with certainty that the ME has the same "Powers" as a coroner but I believe they do.
    Last edited by amlevin; 10-12-2010 at 05:09 PM.
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    Regular Member maclean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amlevin View Post
    Hey when you get to my age vision and memory are the 2nd and 3rd things to go.



    Referring to Washington COUNTIES now,

    36.24.020
    Inquests.
    Any coroner, in his or her discretion, may hold an inquest if the coroner suspects that the death of a person was unnatural, or violent, or resulted from unlawful means, or from suspicious circumstances, or was of such a nature as to indicate the possibility of death by the hand of the deceased or through the instrumentality of some other person: PROVIDED, That, except under suspicious circumstances, no inquest shall be held following a traffic death.

    The coroner in the county where an inquest is to be convened pursuant to this chapter shall notify the superior court to provide persons to serve as a jury of inquest to hear all the evidence concerning the death and to inquire into and render a true verdict on the cause of death. Jurors shall be selected and summoned in the same manner and shall have the same qualifications as specified in chapter 2.36 RCW. The prosecuting attorney having jurisdiction shall be notified in advance of any such inquest to be held, and at his or her discretion may be present at and assist the coroner in the conduct of the same. The coroner may adjourn the inquest from time to time as he or she may deem necessary.

    The costs of inquests shall be borne by the county in which the inquest is held.

    Many Counties in Washington use the Medical Examiner rather than the old elected office of Coroner:

    http://www.dahp.wa.gov/pages/Archaeo...s-Coroners.pdf

    I can't say with certainty that the ME has the same "Powers" as a coroner but I believe they do.
    They do and they don't have the same powers - depending on the power. An ME cannot arrest the Sheriff, for example.

    I am familiar with the RCW that allows for them, I was simply curious if they were routine in other counties in Washington.

    In King, they are automatic.
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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    An ME cannot arrest the Sheriff, for example.
    The Coroner here in Snohomish County actually did arrest the Sheriff back around 1959. Seems the Sheriff was involved with a Prostitution operation in South Snohomish County.

    As to mandatory inquests in other counties, it does not appear to be the case. In Snohomish County, from what I can find, they are optional. Law enforcement in the County is against mandatory inquests in the case of Officer Involved deaths and one of the candidates for Prosecutor wants them to be required. Perhaps someone else has more information on other counties.
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    Quote Originally Posted by amlevin View Post
    The Coroner here in Snohomish County actually did arrest the Sheriff back around 1959. Seems the Sheriff was involved with a Prostitution operation in South Snohomish County.

    As to mandatory inquests in other counties, it does not appear to be the case. In Snohomish County, from what I can find, they are optional. Law enforcement in the County is against mandatory inquests in the case of Officer Involved deaths and one of the candidates for Prosecutor wants them to be required. Perhaps someone else has more information on other counties.
    Regarding the report of the Coroner arresting a Sheriff.....

    Was the Coroner UPSET the Sheriff had not included the Coroner in the "UNDERCOVER" INVESTIGATION?

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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeSparky View Post
    Regarding the report of the Coroner arresting a Sheriff.....

    Was the Coroner UPSET the Sheriff had not included the Coroner in the "UNDERCOVER" INVESTIGATION?
    Actually, the Coroner was a family friend of ours (Bartender at my Mother and Dad's wedding). He laughed his @$$ off because the Sheriff wasn't what one might call one of his favorite people. As for the "Undercover" investigation, I would imagine that there were plenty of volunteers. So many that one might be embarrassed by the crowd.

    Found it interesting that the Coroner is the only official that can arrest a Sheriff.
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    Regular Member maclean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amlevin View Post
    Found it interesting that the Coroner is the only official that can arrest a Sheriff.
    Well, sort of.

    36.24.010
    To act as sheriff under certain conditions.
    The coroner shall perform the duties of the sheriff in all cases where the sheriff is interested or otherwise incapacitated from serving; and whenever the coroner acts as sheriff he or she shall possess the powers and perform all the duties of sheriff, and shall be liable on his or her official bond in like manner as the sheriff would be, and shall be entitled to the same fees as are allowed by law to the sheriff for similar services: PROVIDED, That nothing herein contained shall prevent the court from appointing a suitable person to discharge such duties, as provided by RCW 36.28.090.

    The original idea was so that the Coroner would take hold of the "conservator of the peace for the County" in such cases where the Sheriff was possibly a suspect, and by attention his appointed deputies.

    Much of that issue has been resolved by civil service, but the concept is from common law.
    Last edited by maclean; 10-13-2010 at 12:10 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    In King County, they are automatic - not just proper.

    Do other counties do them?
    Maclean,
    Thank you for confirming this for me. Having been intimately involved with a Coroners Inquest some years ago, I thought they were automatic in King County. I did NOT realize they were optional in other counties.

    Although certainly not pleasant to experience, I think they should be automatic, in that the proceedings are public and are judged by a jury.
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    Quote Originally Posted by amlevin View Post

    Found it interesting that the Coroner is the only official that can arrest a Sheriff.
    Any state or federal LEO can also arrest the elected Sheriff under the right circumstances. This instance is merely talking about the chain of command as far as one of his deputies arresting him or her.

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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G20-IWB24/7 View Post
    Any state or federal LEO can also arrest the elected Sheriff under the right circumstances. This instance is merely talking about the chain of command as far as one of his deputies arresting him or her.
    What was interesting in the case of Sheriff Twitchell, he was charged with violations of the Mann Act, a federal statute. As it was told at the time, the Coroner had to make the arrest, not a Federal Marshal or FBI. Perhaps that has changed since then.
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    Regular Member Lammo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    In King County, they are automatic - not just proper.

    Do other counties do them?
    There hasn't been one that I can recall in my 23+ years as a prosecutor in Spokane. Then again, I don't recall any truly questionable officer involved fatal shootings in that time either (as always, I could be wrong - - it's happened before and it will happen again). For what I hope are obvious reasons I won't comment on whether there should be one regarding recent events. When I have time to read over the statutes I will try to figure out what happens to the coroner's inquest after a county has exercised the option to switch from an elected Coroner to an appointed Medical Examiner. Interesting note: it used to be that in the smaller counties the elected Prosecuting Attorney was also the Coroner. I don't recall whether that is still the case.
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    Well, in Lewis County, we're voting next month on our Coroner, so at least here, we still have one... As far as I can tell, it isn't a full time position. The local area voter's pamphlet hasn't gotten here yet, so can't really tell you all the particulars...

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    Seattle has a citizens review board.

    In almost every occasion, the chief outright ignored recommendations that officers involved in various incidents either be terminated, reassigned, retrained,etc etc.

    Granted, that was the past chief, but still, says a lot...

    Further, there is a firearm review board.. and only one civilian on it.. the rest are officers.....On top of that, the civilian is APPOINTED BY THE MAYOR, and A FORMER KING COUNTY PROSECUTOR...

    No bias there.

    http://www.kuow.org/program.php?id=21401
    Last edited by TechnoWeenie; 10-14-2010 at 04:13 AM.

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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechnoWeenie View Post
    Seattle has a citizens review board.

    In almost every occasion, the chief outright ignored recommendations that officers involved in various incidents either be terminated, reassigned, retrained,etc etc.

    Granted, that was the past chief, but still, says a lot...

    Further, there is a firearm review board.. and only one civilian on it.. the rest are officers.....On top of that, the civilian is APPOINTED BY THE MAYOR, and A FORMER KING COUNTY PROSECUTOR...

    No bias there.

    http://www.kuow.org/program.php?id=21401
    I'd be inclined to give the new Police Chief a break. He faced some pretty stiff criticism from the community and just might take some of it to heart when it comes to "policing his own".

    I'd rather pass judgement on what he does rather than what we all think he might do.
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    Campaign Veteran OlGutshotWilly's Avatar
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    As quoted from TechnoWeenie's article link;
    She says the inquest is the time to assess fault and to make more details public. Roe says she's spoken about her recommendations with police officials and found them receptive.
    I tend to agree as I said above. The inquest is where all the facts come out and fault is assigned by a jury. Not by a review board.

    It will be interesting to see what happens at the inquest after todays results.
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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    In King County, they are automatic - not just proper.

    Do other counties do them?
    If they are "Automatic" then why did the County Executive claim that he "ordered" one in this case? That wouldn't just be a politician trying to grab some headlines, would it?

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...nquest12m.html

    "Acting on a recommendation from the King County Prosecutor's Office, County Executive Dow Constantine on Monday ordered an inquest into the fatal shooting of a homeless woodcarver by a Seattle police officer on Aug. 30.

    Constantine asked Barbara Linde, the presiding judge of the King County District Court, to assign a judge to oversee the court proceeding."
    Last edited by amlevin; 10-15-2010 at 10:07 AM. Reason: Add URL and Article Quote
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    Quote Originally Posted by amlevin View Post
    If they are "Automatic" then why did the County Executive claim that he "ordered" one in this case? That wouldn't just be a politician trying to grab some headlines, would it?

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...nquest12m.html

    "Acting on a recommendation from the King County Prosecutor's Office, County Executive Dow Constantine on Monday ordered an inquest into the fatal shooting of a homeless woodcarver by a Seattle police officer on Aug. 30.

    Constantine asked Barbara Linde, the presiding judge of the King County District Court, to assign a judge to oversee the court proceeding."
    From the King County charter:
    Section 895 Mandatory Inquests.
    An inquest shall be held to investigate the causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of the law enforcement agency of the county in the performance of his duties.

    From the King County Code:
    2.16.080 Seattle-King County department of public health.
    E. The duties of the prevention division shall include the following:
    5. Perform medical examiner and statutory coroner duties, except for the holding of inquests, which function is vested in the county executive.
    Not only is it mandatory, but the county executive is responsible for them. So who did he give the 'order' to? Himself?

    Or does this not apply because it was a SPD officer involved, and not a County Deputy?

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