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Ex-Officers Often Investigate Police-Involved Shootings

Publication Date: 
April 11, 2013
KQED News Fix
Shoshana Walter

Professor Deborah Rhode spoke with KQED's Shoshana Walter about the common practice of assigning retired police officers to conduct criminal investigations and the ethical implications that can undermine the legimacy of such investigations.

After Oakland police Officer Miguel Masso shot and killed 18-year-old Alan Blueford last May, prosecutors quickly released their investigator’s findings about the incident, amid a public outcry and a protest that shut down a City Council meeting.

The shooting was justified, according to the evidence collected by Michael Foster – a former Oakland police officer.

In a city seething with distrust of law enforcement, legal experts and residents are now questioning District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s wisdom in assigning former Oakland police officers to the task.


In California, legal ethicists expressed concern that most prosecutors make no attempt to avoid the controversial assignments.

"It undermines the legitimacy of the investigation," said Stanford Law School professor Deborah Rhode. "At the very least, they should try to find investigators hired by somebody else."