Police Brutality Concerns Brought to DeKalb Commission
(APN) DECATUR — Members of The Coalition of Justice and Police Accountability spoke for nearly thirty minutes about recent police shootings, and a desire for increased accountability, during the public comments section of the Tuesday, September 08, 2015 DeKalb County Board of Commissioners Meeting.
“I feel the DeKalb County Commission is reinforcing this culture of impunity, there is an atmosphere of silence that accompanies these killings,” Xavier Best, representative of Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s (SCLC) Next Generation Leadership Council and Sankofa United Church of Christ, told the Commissioners.
“What we are asking… is that when there is a police shooting, that you be willing to go and see about the family and the loved ones. That, we believe, is a humane thing to do,” attorney Mawuli “Mel” Davis of Davis Bozeman Law Firm told the Commissioners.
In addition to wanting clear policies for DeKalb to reach out to families after police shootings, The Coalition also asked for the Citizen’s Review Board to be given the power to subpoena and for the Department of Justice to investigate the DeKalb Police Department.
“When will the citizens of DeKalb County have the power to gain some control over this out-of-control police force in DeKalb County, with a real Citizen’s Review Board with real power?” Dr. Makungu Akinyela, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement National Organizer, asked the Commissioners.
Families of those involved in police shootings also spoke at the meeting.
“I want DeKalb County to admit to the mistakes that were made with my brother… I want some light shed on these police officer shootings and I want some accountability,” Delisa Davis, sister of Kevin Davis, said during the public comment.
Kevin Davis (not related to Attorney Mawuli Davis) was on the phone with 911, waiting for help after his girlfriend was stabbed, when DeKalb police arrived. Police shot Kevin Davis and he died several days later in police custody.
Commissioner Larry Johnson (District 3), presiding officer, ultimately called for there to be dialogue between the County and those in attendance, and asked Dr. Cedric Alexander, the DeKalb County Police Chief, to speak after the public comments portion of the meeting had ended.
“We’ll coordinate a conversation. We know what some of the concerns are, but we need to have that dialogue both privately and publicly,” Alexander said.
“When there is a police-involved shooting, we have made the administrative police decision to send those out to the GBI [Georgia Bureau of Investigations] so that there will be no doubt that the investigation will be done in a very unbiased way,” Alexander said.
Alexander also spoke about the one million dollars DeKalb County has budgeted for police body cameras, with matching federal funds expected.
After the meeting, both attorneys Davis and Bozeman commended members of the Coalition, while expressing concern that there would continue to be problems with transparency and accountability.
“I want to caution you all, there are folks who say they are with us; they are not,” attorney Davis said to the crowd.
Leaders from organizations like Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s (SCLC) Next Generation Leadership Council, Sankofa United Church of Christ, the families of Kevin Davis and Troy Robinson, and attorneys from activist law firm Davis Bozeman were all present. Overall, about thirty supporters attended the meeting.