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Group meets with District Attorney to discuss independent investigations in police shootings

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Posted at 9:53 PM, Jan 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-15 23:53:25-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- It's two weeks into 2015, and Utah has had four officer involved shootings.

The group Utah Against Police Brutality wants a change in how those cases are reviewed. The group's organizer expressed concerns in a meeting with Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill Thursday afternoon.

Chris Manor is the organizer of Utah Against Police Brutality. He and Gill talked for more than an hour. Manor told Gill he doesn't like how police agencies are investigating their own officer-involved shootings and suggested some changes.

"When the police take a life should they investigate themselves?" asked Manor, but he already had an answer. "With each individual shooting, we want to see an investigation happen that's from an independent external review."

Manor explained that an external civilian review board will give citizens a say in how they are being policed, and hold law enforcement accountable as they protect and serve.

"It gives it an impartial feel to it, that the police aren't simply investigating themselves every time they take a life," Manor told FOX 13 News.

It's a concept the District Attorney said he supports.

"I think that you're going to see a lot of movement in that direction, and it's about the idea of creating transparency and the perception of transparency," Gill said.

Though Gill said he understands Utah Against Police Brutality's concerns, he has questions himself.

"I certainly would not be comfortable turning over the responsibility of charging decisions to an external review board because what are the checks and balances, what is their statutory responsibility, who's the qualified person, do they have the authority to dictate that charges ought to be filed?"

Gill said, ultimately, there needs to be an investigative process in place that not only works, but is trusted.

Manor said he wants Utah to follow in Wisconsin's footsteps, where police shootings are investigated by an independent agency.