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Editorial: On preserving the people’s faith in justice

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Posted: Saturday, February 15, 2014 12:00 am

By the Lodi News-Sentinel

On Jan. 25, Parminder Singh Shergill of Lodi was fatally shot by Lodi police.

This week, a lawyer for Shergill’s family filed a claim contending the Lodi Police Department and District Attorney are refusing to release critical information about the shooting.

In response, Police Chief Mark Helms said an investigation into the incident may take months, as is typical in such cases, and he took exception to any claims of a cover-up.

In fact, the police did release a basic summary of the event, along with the names of the officers involved. They’ve also made available to the News-Sentinel a copy of the departmental guidelines regarding the use of lethal force.

So some information has been made public. Still, questions linger about the weapon police reported Shergill was carrying, the number of shots fired, the nature of the initial call and so on. The family wants access to an autopsy report and related information.

It is possible that, short of a lawsuit, there will be nothing further released for several months or even a year. Even then, what is made public may be only a cryptic finding of whether the shooting was justified or not.

That’s not likely to satisfy the Shergill family — or the community at large.

A silence for many months will only feed the skeptics and amplify the questions.

Law enforcement leaders face many delicate challenges here. Preserving the people’s faith in justice may be the most important.

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