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Posted: 6/22/2011 5:22:20 AM EDT
Posted: Jun. 20, 2011 | 6:43 p.m.

Southern Nevada's largest police union will take its fight against the coroner's inquest process to court.

The Las Vegas Police Protective Association, which represents about 2,800 rank-and-file Las Vegas police officers, will file court papers today asking a judge to deem the revamped inquest process unconstitutional.

The first inquest under the new rules was scheduled to start July 12. That date probably will be rescheduled pending the legal action.

The move is the latest in the police union's strident opposition to changes in the process used to review police-related deaths in Clark County.

The County Commission in November approved several changes to the inquest process, most notably allowing an ombudsman to question officers during inquests. Under the previous rules, only deputy district attorneys, jurors and the hearing master could question witnesses directly. Other interested parties, including relatives of those slain by police officers, had to submit written questions to the hearing master, who decided whether to read them.

The new rules also changed the jury's role. Previously, jurors ruled whether a shooting was justified, excusable or criminal. Under the new rules, jurors will determine only basic facts, such as how, when and where someone died.

Supporters of the renovations felt the changes would add integrity to a process long criticized as favoring police.

"We need to let it work and see if it benefits the victims, their families and the police officers," Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said Monday.

But Collins and other police union heads think the new process will turn a neutral fact-finding hearing into an adversarial one.

After the commission approved the new rules, Collins and police union leaders in Henderson and North Las Vegas advised their members not to participate at inquests.

They also advised their officers to stop cooperating with investigators after officer-involved shootings or in-custody deaths. The reason, Collins said, was that those statements could be rehashed at inquests and expose the officers to civil or criminal liability.

"The PPA has consistently throughout the process taken a position that they are above the law," said Maggie McLetchie of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.

The PPA also took its fight to Carson City during the legislative session in support of a bill that would have eliminated inquests. The bill died in committee.

Link Posted: 6/22/2011 5:29:40 AM EDT
Grissom will not like this
Link Posted: 6/22/2011 5:39:06 AM EDT
After watching the Eric Scott inquest I can't really believe the PPA would try to claim the inquest process was merely a "fact finding" board.  At least then the Jury could rule against the officer, even though they apparently NEVER EVER have at least in a looooooooooooooong time.  Their claim the new process is "adversarial" is suspect since there is no ruling from the jury.

Me thinks they are afraid that without an inquest ruling of "justified" or "excusable", they might be subject to more civil proceedings or maybe criminal.  In the end, their characterization of the new process is a lie, so there's no reason to take anything else they say about it as worth listening to.
Link Posted: 6/22/2011 5:53:40 AM EDT
So they are afraid that if the jury is given a choice in between
completely wrong and completely right, that they will choose that middle

I know its hard to believe, but police aren't perfect, and just because they are moving in the right direction, does not mean they are on the right path.

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