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

Indisputably

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.

                        author

Cynthia Alkon

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… MORE >

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