Bill would create state oversight for officer-involved shootings

MGN Online
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis (WEAU)- The State Senate is expected to vote on a bill that would create a state wide standard for how officer-involved shootings are investigated.

“Right now the AB-409 is written it’s giving other families something that our family never had,” Michael Bell said.

The AB-409 is close to Bell’s heart. His son Michael Bell was killed in an officer-involved shooting in Kenosha in 2004. Kenosha Police investigated the shooting and the officer was cleared.

Bell said since then he has pushed to end the practice of police investigating themselves when people die in custody.

Bell said the original bill called for an independent panel to be created to investigate police-involved shootings. But after some resistance from law enforcement agencies across the state the bill written by Assemblyman Garey Bies of Door County (R) was changed to just specify that at least two officers from outside agencies investigate any police- involved shooting

Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer said one of the problems with the first bill was that Milwaukee was exempt and that the independent review took the case away from the district attorneys.

But Cramer said having outside agencies investigate shootings involving officers is something Eau Claire County is already doing.

"We want the public to feel confident that we are doing things by the Wisconsin statute and from an administrator point that we are not going to cover up any problem," said Cramer.

Cramer said with the last two officer involved shootings in Eau Claire County has had Eau Claire Police investigate, he also uses DCI and the Wisconsin State Patrol as outside agencies.

Bell and other supporters said while this isn't the bill they hoped for it's a step in the right direction.

AB-409 passed the Assembly last week.