(CNSNews.com) – Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Sunday that as president, he would launch an automatic Department of Justice investigation into every killing of an American held in police custody or killed while being apprehended.
“If elected president of the United States, my Department of Justice will investigate every killing of an American held in police custody or killed while being apprehended - an automatic Department of Justice investigation,” Sanders said at the CNN TV One Democratic presidential town hall in Ohio.
Sanders was asked what he would do to create a zero tolerance policy for unjust police killings.
Terina Allen, whose brother Sam DuBose was shot and killed by a police officer last year during a routine traffic stop, asked, “I just wanted to ask, as Americans, we are - it's expected that we can speak out against terrorists, we can speak out against murders and killers of all forms except when that killer is a police officer.
“Yesterday, my brother was going to turn 44 years old, and last July he was shot in the head by a police officer, and we have been on a mission to try to get some accountability within the police systems, and so I wanted to know, it has been my experience, unfortunately, that police officers do lie. They do kill unjustly. They do falsify police reports,” Allen added.
“How can we - as president, what would you do to create zero tolerance policy for… How can we - as president, what would you do to create a zero tolerance policy for unjust police killings, and to help to create a system of accountability that is greater than what we have right now?” she asked.
“Well, Terina, first of all, on behalf of my wife, and myself, we send you our condolences for your terrible and unjust loss. We have seen in Ohio, and all over this country, unarmed people, often African-Americans, shot and killed while being apprehended by police officers. That has got to end, and that has got to end soon,” Sanders said.
“So, let me just say a couple of things. Number one, any police officer who breaks the law, like any other public official, must be held accountable. Period. People break the law; they must be held accountable,” he said.
“Number two, if elected president of the United States, my Department of Justice will investigate every killing of an American held in police custody, or killed while being apprehended. An automatic Department of Justice investigation,” Sanders said.
“Number three, we need to develop the concept of a model police department, and a model police department, and the federal government can play a significant role on that, is to make and create training procedures so that police officers understand that the use of lethal force is the last response, not the first response,” he said. “Too often people are shooting, and then asking question later.
“Furthermore, we need to demilitarize local police departments around this country so they don't look like occupying armies, and we need to make police departments reflect the diversity of the communities they are serving,” Sanders said.
“The American people are tired - blacks, whites, and all of us - are tired of seeing unarmed people getting shot,” he added. “We are tired, by the way, of seeing more people in jail in America than any other country on Earth. I promise you that addressing this issue of real criminal justice reform and ending institutional racism will be at the very top of my list of priorities.”