On Tuesday, The King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) presented a report to the King County Law & Justice Committeeconcerning the January 2017 shooting death of Des Moines teen Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens. OLEO engaged the OIR Group, nationally recognized experts on officer-involved shootings, to conduct a systemic review to identify issues in policy, training, tactics, and other elements that may have contributed to the outcomes in this matter.
The report praised King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Administrative Review Process, which identified 19 separate issues with the shooting and made recommendations for reform but noted that “those reforms were left to die on the vine” by KSCO leadership.
“The public has been loud and clear that officer-involved shootings and their investigation are of paramount concern in King County,” said OLEO Director Deborah Jacobs. “This report includes 43 recommendations that provide the Sheriff’s Office with a clear path forward to creating a safer and more effective environment for law enforcement and the public they serve.”
The OIR Group’s report made numerous key findings that demonstrate significant shortcomings in the investigative process, including:
- KCSO allowed days to lapse before the involved deputies were required to provide written reports and weeks before they were interviewed, which is inconsistent with best investigative practices.
- Key personnel were not interviewed, such as the supervisor who approved the undercover operation and the K-9 officer who deployed after the officer-involved shooting.
In addition, the OIR Group identified points that impact the ongoing safety of KCSO deputies as well as members of the public, including:
- To date, KCSO has adopted few, if any, of the corrective actions identified by its own administrative review of the incident.
- Similarly, while shortcomings in processing the crime scene were identified by KCSO personnel, no remedial plan was initiated to prevent them from happening in the future.
- Current KCSO protocols do not provide a mechanism to effectively export “lessons learned” to either the involved personnel individually or the Sheriff’s Office generally.
- While KCSO’s own review found a problem with maintaining training records, no remedial action was devised to address the issue.
- While KCSO’s own review found issues with the undercover plan and its execution, no training, policy reform, or other remedial action was initiated to address the concerns.
“We are hopeful that KCSO leadership considers the analysis and recommendations in this report in the constructive, forward-looking spirit with which they are offered,” said Michael Gennaco, founding principal of OIR group and chief author of the report.
“The safety of law enforcement officers and the safety of the public are intertwined,” Jacobs added. “It is essential that the recommendations of KCSO’s own internal review team, as well as OLEO’s report, are taken seriously and implementation is prioritized.”