The People's Justice Project pushes for change in the wake of Tyre King shooting


COLUMBUS - A loud and raucous turnout Columbus City Council, as dozens of community members show up to get answers.

That group is pushing for change in the wake of the police shooting of 13-year-old Tyre King.

“Really trying to focus on a reinvestment of dollars that are spent on an increase in policing in our black communities,” said Amber Evans from The People’s Justice Project.

The group has five requests, three of them have to do with moving money from policing to violence prevention programs and intervention and recovery centers. Council President Zach Klein says it will all be considered in the budget process.

“We have an open and transparent series of meetings,” said Klein.

Something the group thinks is not as transparent is the investigation process into police shootings.

“We’re really focused on making sure the police are not investigating themselves,” said Evans.

That's the process now, the agency investigates or decides if a neutral party should brought in.

“The agency itself will decide whether a conflict arises,” said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien.

O'Brien says the investigation is presented to a grand jury for possible charges. He gave input into the Ohio Task Force on Community Police Relations. Changes in the process were brought up. With some pointing to the first statewide law passed in Wisconsin requiring independent investigations in all police shootings.

“In Wisconsin in 130 years, you can never find a police department that ever felt that a shooting was unjustified,” said Michael Bell.

The People's Justice Project says the situation is similar here and Bell spearheaded the push for that law. His son was killed by police in a Milwaukee suburb.

“Even if your state doesn’t pass this, Columbus, Ohio can do the things that we’re asking,” said Bell.

Klein says there are internal and community conversations going on regarding police community relations.

“I think no city policy whether it involves police or a different department should ever be set in stone,” said Klein.

The People's Justice Project did say it plans to appeal to state legislators for changes in how investigations are done.

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