California forms investigative team to review police shootings involving unarmed civilians

A new group with the California Department of Justice will now investigate all law enforcement officer-involved shootings that result in an unarmed civilian dying.

The California Police Shooting Investigation Teams, or CaPSIT, were formed after AB 1506 passed last fall. The new law went into effect on July 1.

Previously, officer-involved shootings that resulted in the death of unarmed civilians were investigated on a local level by law enforcement agencies and district attorneys.

On Wednesday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who helped author the original bill as a state Assembly member, released guidelines explaining CaPSIT's role.

According to the procedural guidelines, the teams will be deployed to incidents after being notified by local law enforcement. They'll work alongside local agencies to conduct their CaPSIT investigations. Click here to see CaPSIT's full procedural guidelines.

CaPSIT teams will then turn over their reports for review by the state Justice Department's Special Prosecutions Section, officials said. Click here to see the Special Prosecutions Section's full procedural guidelines.

Bonta said the new teams would bring more transparency and accountability to officer-involved shooting investigations.

These investigators will determine whether any criminal charges need to be brought against officers involved in the incidents. Those final reports will be made available to the public.

CaPSIT can also provide policy modifications for law enforcement agencies from their investigations.

"This is about standing up for all our communities and ensuring there is trust in the process," Bonta said during a virtual press conference.

However, local departments will remain in charge of civil or administrative investigations regarding the officer-involved shooting.

CaPSIT will be comprised of two teams, with one in Northern California and the other in Southern California. Both teams will be comprised of personnel from across the state, the Attorney General's office said.

All members will have to complete extensive training, both academic and in the field.

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