Police Abuse

New CBC Head Wants Special Prosecutors Appointed in Police Shootings, Not Sure About the Details

Rep. G.K. Butterfield's not sure who'd appoint the prosecutor. He has other ideas for reform, too, but voted against limiting police militarization last year.



Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), the incoming chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, considers getting criminal justice reforms that would take police shooting investigations out of the hands of local prosecutors a top priority this congressional session, he told The Hill in an interview last week. He doesn't have a lot of details though.

Via The Hill:

"There is a common bond between law enforcement officers and prosecutors. It's natural," Butterfield said last week during a sit-down interview in his Capitol Hill office. 

"So when there's a police shooting … I am probably going to advocate some type of special prosecutor, randomly selected, to handle these cases. Appointed by whom? I don't know. Should it be the chief justice? Should it be the governor? You know, the jury's still out on that. But we've got to look at not using the local hometown prosecutor in cases involving police shootings."

The push arrives as a growing number of Democrats — and a handful of Republicans — are urging an overhaul of the nation's criminal justice system in the wake of the Ferguson shooting and several other prominent incidents involving civilian deaths at the hands of police in recent months. 

Butterfield's interest in the issue is encouraging but the lack of details isn't. Questionable use of force by police is not an issue that first cropped up last month or last August; it's been an issue for years. While federal legislators are still contemplating action, state lawmakers around the country, most notably in Missouri, are pushing similar ideas, and Butterfield's staff could study those in putting together federal legislation.

Butterfield says he'll also be pushing for more funding for body cameras, also a good move to combat police misconduct. Butterfield and his staff can find other ideas to combat police misconduct here. Butterfield mentioned a smattering of other criminal justice related reforms, some, like better public defenders and fairer sentencing and drug laws, more hopeful than others, like more training for cops, something police departments promise every time a questionable police action is in the news.

How much Butterfield and the CBC will accomplish in terms of criminal justice and police reforms remains to be seen. Republican control of Congress is not insurmountable given the small but growing group of Republican members of Congress who say, and show, they're interested in civil liberties. But to be successful the members of the CBC will also have to look inward. While The Hill mentioned attempts to limit the transfer of military equipment to local police departments as one component of effective reform, Butterfield, like several other members of the CBC, voted against an amendment in June that would have done just that.

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  1. I’ll go there: He’s black?

    1. If he lost a little weight and trimmed the mustache in a bit….

      1. He’d be healthier?

      2. Mr. Whipple?

    2. It’s the legacy of the one drop rule from the Jim Crow era. If you had any known black ancestor (also define by the one drop rule) then you, too, were classified as black by the government.

      I don’t know what the determination for blackness should be, or if we should even care about that any more.

      “One drop” refers to having even one drop of black blood.

      1. Awesome. That makes me black. Probably. Do I get reparations? Or do I have to like hip-hop?

    3. Also, we have no idea if the congressman straightens his hair, bleaches his skin, or is wearing makeup for that photo shoot.

  2. And I thought the pepper-spray guy didn’t look black.

  3. He identifies as black – he’s trans-racial, you insensitive clod!

    1. Yep. Just pulled up his wikipage:

      Butterfield was born and raised in a prominent African-American family in Wilson, North Carolina, the son of Addie Lourine (n?e Davis) and George Kenneth Butterfield, both of mixed race.[1] Butterfield’s father immigrated to the United States from Bermuda.[2]

      Described by the Washington Post as an “African-American who appears to be white,”[3] Butterfield acknowledges he has European as well as African ancestry, and that he identifies as African American. He has noted that he grew up on the “black side” of town and led civil rights marches.[4] He is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

  4. Couldn’t help but be reminded of Herbert Kornfeld, His Stone Cold Baadness, The Original Gangsta, The Mack Daddy, The Freaky Gangbanga:


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  6. G.K. Butterfield? Did this guy use a time machine to travel here straight from the 1920s?

    1. I don’t know, but his band is about to be inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame:


  7. I was born a poor black child.

    1. +1 Jerk

  8. Slightly OT: The new Battlefield series entry is rather unsettling…


    Battlefield Hardline features new variety of gameplay that breaks away from the traditional Battlefield game modes. The focus of the game has been shifted to police and the “war on crime”, breaking away from the military setting that has hitherto characterized the series. As such, the main factions in Hardline are the police Special Response Units and criminals. Players will have access to various military-grade weapons and vehicles, such as the UH-60 Black Hawk as well as having police equipment such as tasers and handcuffs

    1. Yeah, that really pissed me off when it was announced.

    2. As for me I’ve all but given up caring about the future. That wealthy DC couple who got their kids taken away from them by CPS probably nodded sagely to each other and sighed when things like that happened to the untermenchen and sadly said “we need more of this for the common good”. If Twattlefield:Police State vs The Darkies is a big success I’ll lose all faith in Americans.

      1. Most likely, the game limits the potential for making the police look bad, but I still look forward to the user-made videos. It will be especially delicious if EA gets DMCA happy.

        1. GTA V already set the gold standard for making the police look like pieces of shit.

        2. The thing is that Battlefield (and it’s genre) has a nasty reputation for jingoistic dehumanization of the opposition. I shudder to think that they’ve started in on other Americans, at all.

        3. I can imagine a multiplayer game where the criminals do nothing, with the players screaming “Don’t shoot!”, as the police players mow them down.

  9. My vote is fir Sista Soulja

  10. How much Butterfield and the CBC will accomplish in terms of criminal justice and police reforms remains to be seen.

    Nothing will happen unless the reforms come with consequences. Police departments are required by law to do all sorts of things, like report stats on how many people they kill each year to the federal government. They routinely ignore these laws and nothing else happens. So Congress can pass laws all day long, but unless they come with consequences for police who ignore them, it’s all a bunch of hot air.

    1. Considering they voted against preventing the Pentagon from giving surplus equipment to police, I’m not expecting jackshit.

    2. “…like report stats on how many people they kill each year to the federal government…”

      There is no law requiring that which is why the FBI does not have the stats.

  11. I wish the guy all the luck in the world. Honestly, though, I’m skeptical that his proposal will do all that much good. What’s left out of the narrative he’s feeding off of is policy. The fact is that, when you have countless iterations of police arresting people, some of those iterations are going to wind up going badly. That leaves Rep. Butterfield with the options of accepting dead cops (which really isn’t going to happen) or dead “suspects”. Unless you move to reduce the number of arrest events, you’re just pulling your pud. But, that means some decisions I’m not so sure the CBC has much of an appetite for. Ending the Drug War? Eliminating civil asset forfeiture? Taking on the nanny state noodges in their own coalition? I’d love to see it. But, I’m not holding my breath.

  12. Useless. Any investigator who has to deal with the cops will always be intimidated one way or another.

    The problem is having a monopoly of cop authority and no accountability. The only way to get accountability is break the cop monopoly, and I don’t mean sheriffs vs city vs state; I mean allow ANYBODY to act as cops when investigating a victim crime. If someone burgles my house and I want to hire my brother-in-law or Miles Archer, that’s my business. States love them some occupational licensing, so if that comes into play, it has to be independent of any government police.

  13. “There is a common bond between law enforcement officers and prosecutors.”

    This is why grand juries in pig abuse cases are a sham.

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