LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles County's top prosecutor spoke out Friday to defend how her office handles the investigation and criminal prosecution of police officers.
Speaking on a radio show hosted by Los Angeles Urban Roundtable founder Earl Ofari Hutchinson, District Attorney Jackie Lacy said there is one fundamental question her office must answer in each officer-involved shooting she investigates.
"Can we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed by the police officer? If we do, we file it," Lacey said. "If we don't, then we do a very detailed analysis of how we got there and we release that publicly."
There are about 200 officer-involved shootings ever year in L.A. County, and the District Attorney's office has 15 full-time investigators and 13 prosecutors specifically assigned to such cases, according to Lacey.
Saying it would be unethical to comment on those cases still under investigation, Lacey declined to speak about the officer-involved shooting that lead to the death of Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old man described as mentally ill by his family members.
Ford was shot and killed by police in South L.A. in August of last year.
But Lacey did speak about the need for law enforcement officers to be properly trained in how to handle situations involving those with mental illness.
"I am not a prosecutor without a heart, and certainly I know the Ford family is going thru a lot of pain as is the community," she said. "My goal is to do what's right and fair to see if we can prevent these officer-involved shootings from happening in the future, particularly those people who are mentally ill."
LAPD is still conducting their investigation into the Ford shooting.
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