When A Person Dies While In The Custody Of Or At The Hands Of The State & Its Agents

ACCOUNTABILITYFor the benefit of the public, whenever a person dies either while in the custody of the State and its agencies, or dies during actions carried out by agents of the State (example: police-involved shootings), The law requires that a Coroner’s Inquest be held to determine how the death occurred and whether all connected actions by the State and/or its agents were legal. We have numerous honest, brave, properly trained and law-abiding police officers and we should always give them our full support. We, though, also have some crooked and procedurally sloppy officers. What must always happen in a democracy, is that we ensure that no life is unlawfully taken by the State or its agents, and that if a life is unlawfully taken, those responsible are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Whenever a life is taken by a police officer, the government ought to ensure that full and immediate accountability is given to the nation for what has taken place, so that the nation can be relatively assured that neither the State nor its agencies is acting above the law, and that the State cannot take a life and get away scot-free with doing so. Justice must always be done and be seen to be done.

With that said, it has been a year since the Coroner ruled that police officers unlawfully killed Aaron Rolle, who was, according to the Coroner, unlawfully beaten to death by officers while in police custody. Yet, no action has been taken by the Attorney General and Commissioner of Police to put the officers involved before the criminal courts for this killing. We also have numerous other police-involved killings whose Inquests have yet to be held. Because crime is so high and we have so many bold criminals out there, we often (and unwisely) immediately applaud police whenever we hear they have killed someone. THAT IS NOT THE ATTITUDE YOU SHOULD TAKE IN A DEMOCRACY.

If police in such cases do act lawfully, then so be it. But the law says a Coroner’s Inquest in the first instance, must be held to determine whether they did or did not do so. Our police are mandated to enforce the law and they are physically armed to do so when lawfully required. It is therefore in everyone’s interest that they act within the law at all times, especially when it comes to human life and liberties – because anyone at anytime, whether they are a criminal or not – can find themselves in the hands of, in direct interaction with, or at the mercy of law enforcement officers.

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