Attorney questions police about shootings

Tuesday, August 12th 2008, 10:59 pm
By: News 9

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

OKALAHOMA CITY - Since July 5, there have been at least five shootings, all involving Oklahoma City Police.

A prominent attorney has since raised questions about the use of force and whether the officers are properly trained.

There are around 3,000 police officers on the force and each year they make about 18,000 arrests.

Attorney Tony Coleman said the five officer-involved shootings that happened this summer led him to ask whether more could be done to limit the number of shootings.

"There's a pattern on behavior here that's going unchecked," Coleman said.

James Ware was shot and killed in July 2007 after police responded to a vandalism call.

Coleman was hired to represent the family who accused the officers of excessive use of force.

"As with that case last year and the ones that have happened thus far, there's not going to be any wrongdoing found on the officer's part, criminal or civil-wise," Coleman said.

Coleman said he believes an outside agency should investigate police accused of wrongdoing, but Chief Bill City said the training is in line with departments in larger cities.

"There is a pretty strict review process and there's also an internal process that we go through," City said.

While the officers also undergo cultural and diversity training, City said he doesn't think it has much impact on the rash of shootings.

"I'm surprised we don't have more with the number of firearms officers are having to take off of these individuals," City said.

Coleman said he is not anti-police and understands the challenges of their job, but he also maintains those excessive abuse cases could benefit from further review.

"If they would turn these things over to a grand jury and let the grand jury decide if these officers should be indicted, I think we'll have an entirely different outcome," Coleman said.

City said in his five years on the force, he can recall at least two cases where the officers were disciplined for firing their weapon. In those cases, there was no bodily harm. City also said he called in the FBI to review some of the cases of police brutality and excessive use of force.