BLACK VOICES

The Close Relationship Between Prosecutors And Police Officers

The Guardian found some staggering statistics about indictments in cases of police killings.

Prosecutors generally work closely with police departments to bring forth indictments and convictions in criminal proceedings, but what happens when a case involves an officer who is implicated in a crime?

The Guardian investigated that very question and found that in 2015, district attorneys cleared their cop colleagues of wrongdoing in 217 cases of police killings. That number makes up 85 percent of all killings by police that were ruled justified last year. 

Jamiles Lartey, a reporter for The Guardian's The Counted project, joined HuffPost Live last week and elaborated on the findings. In cases of police killings, prosecutors chose to indict roughly 6 to 8 percent of the time, he said.

"That's not always murder or manslaughter indictment, sometimes that's something lower," he said.

Lartey also discussed the cozy relationship between police organizations and prosecutors more broadly. 

"In our investigation what we've found is that the vast majority of the time, 85 percent of the time, these prosecutors who ultimately adjudicate these cases and decide whether or not charges should be filed are the same ones who work with that department day in and day out," he said. 

That bond goes beyond just day-to-day working relationships, he added. 

"Commonly police unions, fraternal orders, all of these different police organizations are fairly common contributors to the political campaigns of prosecutors." he said.

Lartey acknowledged that the amount donated can vary, and campaign donations doesn't necessitate an expectation of "special treatment," but he raised questions about the potential for a conflict of interest. 

"Obviously, anyone who donates to a prosecutor in their jurisdiction could potentially be someone who might face charges at some point in that jurisdiction, but, you know, it was interesting," he said. "And in some places you're talking about tens of thousands of dollars coming in from police unions to prosecutors. It's hard to imagine that that prosecutors wouldn't be aware of that."

Watch the full HuffPost Live video about the relationship between prosecutors and police organizations here

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