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Editorial: Requiring more releases about police shooting of Lodi veteran would create more trust of officers

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Posted: Saturday, May 10, 2014 12:00 am

When Gulf War veteran Parminder Shergill was killed by gunshots fired by two Lodi police officers, the tragedy bred a hunger for facts.

Each release of information about the event has increased public understanding. But mistrust and skepticism persist.

It seems inevitable that if the officers are exonerated, suspicion will escalate — even if the officers acted perfectly properly.

That’s because release of information about this case has become a battle between beleaguered Lodi Police Chief Mark Helms and Mark Merin, a crusading lawyer who has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the officers.

This week Helms, wisely if reluctantly, released some additional information — a picture of the knife Shergill was said to be brandishing, audio files of police communications and reports of previous violent behavior by Shergill.

The public still hasn’t seen records of interviews with the officers or the autopsy report that might tell us about medications or other substances in Shergill’s system.

Helms is the keeper of the facts. Merin and the Sikh community must launch rhetorical attacks to get them. This battle leaves Helms in a very difficult position and adds to mistrust.

Some California cities — Berkeley and Los Angeles come immediately to mind — have commissions to oversee police conduct. Compared to those cities, police shootings in Lodi are rare. Big city solutions aren’t necessarily needed here.

But the Lodi City Council or the state Legislature could do more to defuse the inevitable anger that arises when a police officer shoots a citizen. If Helms were required to release certain information promptly and automatically under a new city or state law, he would be off the hook. There would be no expectation by his staff that he “protect the troops,” and the public wouldn’t fear that he was doing nothing else to further justice.

If police officers and their leaders were willing to try this, they would swamp political opposition here or in Sacramento.

The way things are now, we are fueling a dangerous and unnecessary mistrust of cops.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Ed Walters posted at 12:36 pm on Wed, May 21, 2014.

    the old dog Posts: 637

    A statement was made that many people distrust cops, maybe so. However if you get a ticket you broke the law, law enforcement doesn`t make the rules, they enforce them. Many people have the cops hung out to dry, if a grand jury is convened, and enough evident is presented to the DA, let the trial start. Many people believe what they want to believe, which is their right. People are quick to criticize until an event happens that the police are needed, then they can`t get there soon enough, as in a car accident, shooting, domestic dispute, and many more. Sooner or later the truth will appear.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 7:33 am on Fri, May 16, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    I don't need to check the dictionary for the word murder, Mr. Kindseth. You need to check yours:

    Opinion: a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
    Conclusion (your word): a reasoned deduction or inference.

    Either way, it is still the man's view of the situation - has nothing to do with your outburst of judgment.

    You need to re-read Mr. Tarnowski's post yourself. You seemed to think he stated that the police were TRIED AND CONVICTED of murder.

    He only stated his OPINION (or conclusion, is you wish) that the police were guilty of murder.

    Once again you are wrong, but you will never admit it. You just try to parse your words to make it seem that someone else's cognitive abilities are faulty.

  • John Kindseth posted at 8:55 am on Thu, May 15, 2014.

    John Kindseth Posts: 245

    Miss Joanne:

    Mike drew a conclusion, he was NOT phrasing an opinion. Of all people you should be cognizant of the difference.

  • John Kindseth posted at 8:53 am on Thu, May 15, 2014.

    John Kindseth Posts: 245


    you really need to brush up on your Webster Work

    1mur·der noun \ˈmər-dər\

    : the crime of deliberately killing a person

    : the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought

  • Brian Dockter posted at 8:20 pm on Wed, May 14, 2014.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    Speaking of inserting words. you make quite a habit of doing it yourself,
    MSSSSSS. Bobbin.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 2:02 pm on Tue, May 13, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    The only thing you missed, as usual, Mr. Kindseth, was the point of the comment.

    Mr. Tarnowski didn't say the Lodi police were CONVICTED of murdering the man, he only stated the OPINION that he HAD been murdered.

    Calm down and read ALL the words without inserting your own next time.

  • John Kindseth posted at 12:32 pm on Tue, May 13, 2014.

    John Kindseth Posts: 245

    "This man was murdered by the Lodi police months ago,".....Mike Tarnowski

    Wow ! I guess I missed the whole trial and conviction. Mike, where was it held ? Were you on the jury ? Who was the presiding judge ?. I need to be better informed. I wanted to be there. Guess I must have been out of town that day.

  • mike tarnowski posted at 8:04 pm on Sat, May 10, 2014.

    staplehead Posts: 5

    This is really unbelievable.This man was murdered by the Lodi police months ago,and NO comments.What is wrong in a community when NO ONE hasa comment?OR have the comments not been published?


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