ACLU of Michigan Urges 'Transparency and Professionalism' in Investigation of Fatal Shooting by Police Officer

DETROIT--As Detroit civil-rights activists prepare to protest the recent fatal shooting of an unarmed Detroit man by a Dearborn police officer, the ACLU of Michigan today called for "transparency and professionalism" in the Detroit Police Department's investigation into the slaying.

Kevin Matthews, 35, was shot multiple times by a Dearborn police officer following a foot chase on Dec. 23, according to multiple reports. A march to protest the slaying has been called for the evening of Jan. 4. Mark Fancher, staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan Racial Justice Project, issued the following statement:

"It is of course a tragedy that yet another person has died in an encounter with those whose mission is to serve and protect the public. We remain hopeful that the investigation of this matter will be conducted efficiently and with transparency and professionalism.  We further hope we will soon be in a position to evaluate the actions of those involved. If it is ultimately determined that there is little objective evidence of how the actual encounter transpired, this death will be further evidence of the importance of having contemporaneous documentation of police interactions with the community by way of body cameras. In the meantime, the ACLU of Michigan is in communication with other community and civil rights organizations that are concerned about this tragic event.

"The ACLU of Michigan is also  engaged in ongoing efforts to identify and promote best practices by police that include such things as: de-escalation of conflicts; training for encounters with those who are mentally ill; and the transformation of police demeanor and culture from 'us versus them' to partnership with the community.  Media reports indicate that Mr. Matthews was pursued by police and that he died of multiple gunshot wounds. Even from these limited findings there appear to be reasons to examine closely the procedures and practices that led to violence. There are also questions to be raised during the investigation about whether there were alternative methods of approaching Mr. Matthews and whether in approaching an unarmed man it was reasonable for an officer to have been prepared to use less-than-lethal force rather than lethal force if a need for self-defense arose."

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