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<xTITLE>I’m Sorry ... There is nothing that could justify what happened on Saturday morning, nothing</xTITLE>

I’m Sorry ... There is nothing that could justify what happened on Saturday morning, nothing

by Cynthia Alkon
October 2019

Indisputably

Cynthia Alkon

Those words are part of the apology by the Mayor of Fort Worth, Betsey Price, for the police officer killing of Atatiana Jefferson in her home in Fort Worth on Saturday, October 12th.

It was followed up by an unconditional apology by the Interim Police Chief, Ed Karus.

To watch the full apology see here 

These unconditional apologies break new ground in Fort Worth.  As reported by the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Bob Ray Sanders, co-chair for the city’s Race and Justice Task Force, observed after the press conference that this shooting represents  “a change moment.” “Believe me, I’ve never seen the Police Officers Association condemn a police officer,’ Sanders said. ‘In the 40 years that I’ve been paying attention to the police association, they don’t say anything bad about another officer…And because the police association supports city council members, very few city council members criticize the police force. Up until this year, this city doesn’t do that. But today they did it and I’ve got to give them credit. Today they stepped up and did it.”

This is the latest in what seems an unending stream of tragic officer involved shootings and killings of people of color in Texas and around the country.  According to reports in today’s Fort Worth Star Telegram the city will have an “outside” group review Fort Worth’s police policies and training.  It seems clear that this review needs to go deeper than simply looking at the training topics, but examining how police officers are being trained and the surrounding culture.  Just two months ago the officer who killed Ms. Jefferson completed a “crisis intervention” training.

The apologies by Mayor Price and Chief Kraus are models of how to apologize for a tragedy like this. However, those apologies will ring hallow if not joined by meaningful action to prevent future tragedies of this kind.  Time will tell if Fort Worth will do just that.

Biography


Cynthia Alkon joined the faculty at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in 2010. She was an assistant professor of law at the Appalachian School of Law from 2006-2010. Prior to joining academia, Professor Alkon was a criminal defense lawyer and worked in rule of law development in Eastern Europe and Central Asia focusing on criminal justice reform issues.  Professor Alkon worked for nearly seven years as a deputy public defender in Los Angeles County.  Professor Alkon then joined the American Bar Association Central and East European Law Initiative working as a Rule of Law Liaison in Belarus for two years (1998-2000). After Belarus Professor Alkon was the head of the legal department for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Albania. From 2002-2006 Professor Alkon was the Head of the Rule of Law Unit for the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR). In that position Professor Alkon supervised the OSCE/ODIHR Rule of Law Unit’s criminal justice reform assistance projects in Central Asia, the Caucasus and Eastern Europe.   

Professor Alkon’s scholarship focuses on criminal dispute resolution, comparative criminal procedure and rule of law reform. Professor Alkon looks critically at current rule of law reform programs and is particularly interested in examining how different dispute resolution processes in criminal cases may contribute to rule of law development in countries in transition. Professor Alkon is a contributor to Indisputably.org, a member of the Law Professor Blogs Network.



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