New Sponsors Back California Measure to Secure Rights of Families Whose Family Members Injured, Killed by Police  

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By Kaylynn Chang

SACRAMENTO, CA — Californians for Safety and Justice, and Silicon Valley De-Bug are backing California Assemblymember Ash Kalra’s AB 3021, a measure designed to clearly state the rights of families being interrogated by law enforcement after the death or injury of a loved one by police.

Assemblymember Kalra (D-San Jose) said, in a statement last week, families should be given “information about the circumstances surrounding their loved ones’ welfare, without being kept in the dark.”

Speaking on the practice of extracting information during interrogations, Kalra acknowledged law enforcement agencies are taught to interrogate with the “aim of protecting officers from legal repercussions and criminal allegations.”

But, quoting an investigative report by Los Angeles Times reporter Brian Howey, the lawmaker’s statement also points to a study about these kinds of tactics, where information about a victim is withheld from the families during the interrogation process.

An example in the statement noted the story of Ian Smith and his son, Luke, who was killed by the police after an incident.

The article reveals tactics used by detectives included omitting information about the death of Luke after he was killed by law enforcement when interviewing members of his family.

These specific practices have been documented 20 times “by 15 law enforcement agencies across the state since 2008,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

AB 3021 will “require peace officers, prosecuting attorneys, or investigators to clearly identify themselves and explain the rights of individuals being interviewed, questioned, or interrogated prior to engaging with a family member of someone who has been killed or severely injured by a peace officer.”

A case similar to the one in the LA Times investigative report was that of Jim Showman and his daughter Diana Showman, who was killed by San Jose Police Department in 2014.

Showman testified he was interrogated “while the information of her death was withheld, his phone confiscated, and he was kept isolated from family.”

In a hearing, Showman remarked that “when I discussed what happened to me in that interrogation room with other families who had lost loved ones to police, it turned out that this withholding of information by police about the death of a family member was common.”

Showman emphasized that “passing AB 3021 is vitally important so other family members and loved ones of victims of police violence won’t be preyed upon by this coercive interrogation practice.”

“Being given false or misleading information by a law enforcement official can compound the trauma and pain a victim of crime may be experiencing, and does nothing to help them heal,” commented Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice.

About The Author

Kaylynn Chang is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley looking to major in Legal Studies with a strong interest in criminal justice and judicial law. Having years of experence with journalism and leading a publication, she loves to look for the stories of her community, focusing on the hidden voices and intriguing tales of people. She hopes to attend law school in the future, but for now she is looking to gain experience and experiment with her path. A passionate creator, a cafe connoisseur, and a library enthusiast, Kaylynn is always looking for small adventures along with accomplishing big goals.

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