Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Probes into officer-involved shootings like Lodi incident are meant to add transparency

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 12:00 am

An extensive investigation is underway into the fatal shooting of a Parkwest man by Lodi police officers. It will include multiple agencies, exhaustive interviews and detailed analysis.

Such investigations, which are triggered automatically after an officer-involved shooting, often rely on officers investigating other officers. That prompts the question: How do agencies ensure that these reviews are truly impartial?

The current investigation centers on a fatal shooting on Jan. 25, after two Lodi police officers confronted 43-year-old Parminder Singh Shergill. Police say he charged at the officers with a knife. In the hours, days and weeks after the shooting, investigators from multiple agencies canvassed the quiet Lodi neighborhood near Peterson Park, searching for witnesses. A state agency will help collect and analyze evidence.

And when the investigation is complete — which could take several months to a year — the District Attorney’s office will produce a memorandum, detailing the findings and whether lethal force was justified.

“The intent of these protocol investigations is to ensure a thorough investigation is completed that addresses the concerns of the family, the officers involved and the community,” Lodi Police Lt. Sierra Brucia said in a news release.

Shots are fired, an investigation begins

Officers started en route to Shergill’s home around 9:06 a.m. after his mother called police, worried about her son’s mental state. The officers, identified last week as Cpl. Scott Bratton and Officer Adam Lockie, made contact with Shergill on the 00 block of Elderica Way.

Once officers fired their weapons, as with any officer-involved shooting within San Joaquin County, an extensive investigation would be put in motion, which includes the Lodi Police Department, the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, the California Department of Justice, the county coroner’s office and the Lodi city attorney, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Ronald Freitas.

All of the agencies work in conjunction with one another throughout the investigation, which is led by a member of the police department and an experienced prosecutor from the District Attorney’s office.

Investigators are ‘held to a higher standard’

Meanwhile, in officer-involved shooting investigations, the District Attorney’s office works side-by-side with the investigating agency — in this case, the Lodi Police Department.

The District Attorney’s office has its own team of investigators, consisting of current and retired police officers from the county Sheriff’s office, Stockton Police Department, agencies outside the county and former Lodi P.D. investigators.

Five investigators from the District Attorney’s office are assigned to the Shergill shooting.

While none of those investigators are former Lodi officers, family members and attorneys in other police shooting cases have raised questions about conflicts of interest when officers — former or current — investigate fellow officers.

Freitas dismissed such concerns in this case.

“No, (there is no conflict) because they’re held to a higher standard and independently employed by the District Attorney’s office,” Freitas said.

Freitas said the D.A. investigators are in good standing within their departments and went through a thorough application and interview process.

Freitas said every interview with officers and civilians is either tapeor video-recorded and attended by investigators from both the District Attorney’s office and police department. Investigators from both offices will also attend Shergill’s autopsy, which hasn’t been conducted yet.

“It creates transparency in the investigation, which thereby promotes the transparency of the final outcome,” Freitas said.

He said that the Office of the Attorney General has twice reviewed findings made by the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office in officer-involved shootings — most recently last year — and agreed with the findings in both cases.

“We welcome a review from the Attorney General,” Freitas said.

In addition, the police department will collect evidence, take part in interviews and map a scene of the shooting, which will provide further analysis.

The California DOJ will conduct forensic analysis, such as a ballistics report.

Public release uncertain

The District Attorney’s office will provide records, organize briefings, provide legal advice, answer any questions that arise within the investigation and provide a final review.

Last week, during a vigil for Shergill, attorneys hired by the family questioned the police department’s depiction of events and pleaded with the department to answer several important questions, such as the size of the knife officers said Shergill was holding, the distance officers were from Shergill and how many shots were fired.

The following day, Lodi police released the names of the officers involved and a brief synopsis of their history with the department.

Bratton has been with the Lodi Police Department since 2000 and was previously employed as an officer with the Manteca Police Department. Lockie has been a Lodi police officer since 1999.

It’s possible that answers to the other questions won’t be released at all, or at least not before the District Attorney’s office completes its report.

According to Freitas, it has not yet been decided whether the entire memorandum, which will include facts, applicable laws and reason for the findings, will be made public.

However, a determination of whether force was justified will be made public.

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 210

Loading…

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists