DENVER (CBS4) – A Colorado lawmaker says she will introduce legislation changing how all deadly force cases involving police are investigated. The shooting of 19-year-old De’Von Bailey in Colorado Springs in August was a tipping point for Rep. Leslie Herod, Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
The El Paso County District Attorney has turned that case over to a grand jury after pressure from Gov. Jared Polis.
Herod claims the process for investigating deadly force is rigged in favor of officers.
“Too many law enforcement officers are acting outside of what we believe they should be using their badge for and not being held accountable,” Herod said.
While she wouldn’t give any examples, she said the only way to ensure accountability is to move investigations outside of the officer’s jurisdiction.
“We need make sure that when law enforcement kills somebody that there’s a process that’s transparent, that’s accountable and that people can put their faith in and right now I don’t think we have that,” said Herod.
George Brauchler, 18th Judicial District Attorney, says he doesn’t want bad cops on the street either — and says he’s prosecuted 17 officers for various crimes over the last three years. But he says the state should not hand criminal investigations over to individuals or entities that don’t have experience or qualifications.
“I think the motivation behind this is that it’s an outcome looking for a process that will justify it,” Brauchler said.
He says the law already requires an independent investigation, in most cases by a team of multiple law enforcement agencies. Herod wants a state commission lead by citizens or an entity like the Attorney General’s Office or Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
She also plans to raise the bar used to justify deadly force.
Brauchler says officers are held to the same standard as everyone else.
“I just think that’s a huge, reckless mistake,” Brauchler said. “For them to change the standard is for them to say we want to see more police officers accused of crimes and prosecuted and, gosh darn it, under the laws that apply to everyone of us that standard is just too darn high so we want to change it so we can go after the cops.”
Herod says cops should be held to a higher standard.
“These people walk around with badges. They walk around with guns. They come into our homes. They come into our businesses. They interact with our children,” Herod said. “We should all be able feel safe around law enforcement.”
Herod may also change Colorado’s “fleeing felon” law, which allows officers to use deadly force to prevent someone from escaping if they think that person is dangerous.
Polis has indicated that he, too, would like to see a change. He met with the family in Colorado Springs and expressed his condolences.