Washtenaw County Prosecutor issues new directives for officer-involved violence charges

Posted at 9:53 AM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 09:53:49-05

(WXYZ) — Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit announced Friday new policies for officer-involved violence and other interactions between the public and police.

The first policy will require the prosecutor's office to recuse itself and seek an outside prosecutor in all cases where charges could be issued against officers who may have engaged in violence against civilians.

Under the second policy, assistant prosecuting attorneys will review all evidence, including video records, before filing charges against civilians for resisting and obstructing police officers.

"When a police officer engages in violence against a civilian, it can be wrenching for the broader community. Lamentably, local prosecutor’s offices have not engendered confidence in their ability to fairly evaluate officer-involved violence," the first policy reads. "Part of that is because of structural issues. Local prosecutors work with local police, day-in and day-out. It is virtually impossible to maintain the appearance of impartiality when a prosecutor must evaluate charges against an officer working for a department with whom the Prosecutor’s Office regularly works."

“Today’s directives are geared towards ensuring fair and impartial justice for everyone,” Savit said in a release. “Law enforcement officers have a tremendously trying and dangerous job, and they deserve to do their job without unnecessary interference. To be crystal clear: any violence against police officers is absolutely unacceptable.”

Under the second policy, all relevant material could include body-cams, dash-cams and any other photo, video or audio materials.

“All of us—civilians and police—should want assurance that the Prosecutor’s Office is getting it right,” Savit concluded. “Today’s directives are a major step forward in that direction.”