Thursday, November 05, 2015

DPS Fails to Report Shooting of Unarmed Man: Month One of the New Officer-Involved Shooting Reporting Requirement

Now that we are outside of the 30-day reporting + 5-day posting window for police-involved shootings in the month of September, I took a look at the Guardian and Washington Post databases of police-involved deaths to see if Texas law enforcement agencies have been complying with the new law.

Unfortunately, the compliance rate for deaths* in September is only 50%: three of the six deaths by police-involved shooting captured by the Washington Post and the Guardian have not been posted to the Attorney General’s website.  On September 27, a man in Ponder was shot and killed after police responded to gunshots in the neighborhood. The man allegedly fired at a police officer. This incident is not listed on the Attorney General’s website.

On September 23, a man in McKinney was shot and killed after police responded to a call about a woman and child being held against their will. The man allegedly fired at officers. This incident is not listed on the Attorney General’s website.

On September 21, a man in Paris was shot and killed after a DPS highway trooper approached the man, who was sitting on a highway barrier, and an altercation allegedly ensued. This incident is not listed on the Attorney General’s website.

The September 21 incident is particularly troublesome because it appears to be the one September death from a police-involved shooting in Texas where the person killed was unarmed. And the officer involved was a DPS officer; while I can see how some small agencies without in-house lawyers could be unaware of the new reporting requirement (although, as any law enforcement officer will tell you, ignorance of the law is no excuse), DPS has an Office of General Counsel, which should know of the new law.

While bumps are expected when a new law comes into effect, the early compliance issues point to underlying problems that I have previously identified: no person or office is charged with enforcement, and there are no penalties for noncompliance. Further, the Attorney General’s office has not issued guidance on the new law, which may account for some of the compliance issues and confusion around how to report and where to post. Even if the AG is not interested in enforcing the law (as it has indicated with respect to a similar law), revised forms and guidance could improve roll-out.

It’s great that Texas is ahead of the game in requiring this reporting, but if the law is not enforced, or at least monitored, incomplete data will undermine the value of the information. I hope these problems simply reflect hiccups in the early stages of implementation and that the Attorney General will take a more active role in ensuring the spirit of the law is preserved.

* The Washington Post and Guardian websites only track deaths and I do not know of a database tracking injuries from police shootings to which the Attorney General reports can be compared.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Texas DPS breaks it's own laws and all websites listing arrest records for profit too.

I have had a breach in my Blog. This page was removed from my Blog; I think by hackers from these websites mentioned on these pages: so I republished it and added a part two: SEE LISTS! These are websites that list sex offenders on their web sites for profit. Texas DPS Breaks it's own Laws Everyday: I believe making sex offender registration public: especially to allow web crawlers like Google to access it by bypassing this page:
These are legal rules DPS has set forth itself by law. This a absolute abuse of freedom of information passed by President Johnson. By listing this information on websites it is against the law and for profit makes it twice as illegal.