Attorney William R. Claiborne just held a news conference to respond to the civil grand jury’s presentment in the Ricky Boyd Savannah police shooting. Below is a full transcript:
“Last year, 987 people were shot and killed by police in the United States.
We’re not even to Memorial Day and the number this year already stands at 408.
When these events occur, no matter what the specific facts are, there is a choice to be made.
Whether to proceed forward in a way that directly addresses what happened and builds up community trust or whether to hold back information and stonewall which erodes community trust.
Leaders in this country and leaders in this community need to reform the way they look at these incidents and the polices that are employed when they happen.
First, the U.S. Marshalls Service has a policy against using body cameras. That’s an awful, unjustifiable policy.
Second, there needs to be a clear policy, that is actually followed, about the release of information in police shootings. Giving out information in a piecemeal fashion destroys community trust.
Experts in these matters, such as Prof. Geoffrey Alpert, a national expert on police shootings, say that transparency from the very beginning is the best policy.
Prof. Alpert said that waiting months to release video can chip away at public confidence in law enforcement.
‘The smart leaders,’ he said, ‘want it released.’
I would add that releasing information to the news media in the dark of night doesn’t build up community trust. Failing to give that information to the victim’s family until after it’s given to the media doesn’t build up community trust.
We have made at least five requests for this information, but as we sit here right now, no information has been released to me or the family by the DA’s office. I have no idea when we will get it; I made another request this morning.
Ricky’s family takes some solace in the statement by the grand jury that a federal investigation has apparently been opened into this matter. They hope that is true.
And they hope that investigation addresses some questions that remain unanswered.
-Who shot Ricky?
-How many times was he shot?
-Who shot the officer that morning?
-Why don’t US Marshalls wear body cameras?
-Was the BB gun tested for finger prints? Why not?
-If Ricky was shot by eight officers, why is there no blood or DNA on the gun?
-If an officer retrieved the gun from near Ricky, why didn’t he follow police protocol and secure it in his vehicle. Why lay the gun on the ground 43 feet away?
-Why hasn’t the actual killer of Balil Whitfield been arrested?
-Could the death at Ricky’s funeral have been avoided if the actual killer had been arrested?
408 people have been shot and killed by law enforcement in America this year already. It is far past time that reasonable policies be put in place in police shooting cases.
Trust needs to be built, not destroyed. This country can do better, and be better. This community deserves better, and our leaders can do better.
Thank you for coming; I’m going to get back to work.”
The statistics on police shootings in 2017 and 2018 come from The Washington Post:
Prof. Geoffrey Alpert’s comments about the importance of transparency were made to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Alpert is a professor at the University of South Carolina and a national expert in police shootings.