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Freshman Pa. Legislator Proposes Special Prosecutors in Police Deadly-Force Cases

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (CBS) -- A newly elected Pennsylvania state senator announced today that he plans to introduce a bill requiring use of a special prosecutor in all incidents in which deadly force is used by police.

At a press conference today in Germantown, state senator-elect Art Haywood (D-Phila.) says his first action after he is sworn in to the Pennsylvania Senate on January 6th will be to introduce a bill that requires the state attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor whenever a suspect is killed by police.

"The special prosecutor will serve as an impartial special investigator with the power to indict, removing the perceived conflict of interest that a local district attorney might have when prosecuting a police officer," Haywood (at lectern in photo) said today.

He says his proposed legislation comes in response to concerns raised after grand juries failed to indict police officers in Ferguson, Mo. and Staten Island, NY for killing unarmed black men.

But, he adds, it's not an indictment of police or prosecutors.

"Our law enforcement community does an exceptional job in most instances," Haywood says.  "This is intended to restore trust between law enforcement and the people.  There are thousands of Pennsylvanians who believe our justice system is prone to human fallability.  As lawmakers, we must respond."

State representative Dwight Evans (D-Phila.) says he'll introduce a companion bill in the Republican-run house.

"This is not about partisanship," said Evans (far right in photo).  "We are focused on the issue and we need to start the discussion."

Pennsylvania state senator Vincent Hughes (second from left), a fellow Democrat who supports the bill, agrees.

"Philadelphia is not Ferguson, but we still have work to do," he said at today's press conference.   "But the issue of the perception of justice is just as important as the justice dispensed."

Philadelphia police union president John McNesby has said he would not support legislation requiring a special prosecutor in cases of deaths by police.

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