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You are here News Domestic (USA) Wisconsin Passes First State Law Requiring Independent Investigations of Police-Custody Deaths

Wisconsin Passes First State Law Requiring Independent Investigations of Police-Custody Deaths

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police custody deathsAfter relentless pressure from the families of shooting victims, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill, the first of its kind in the nation, requiring deaths in police custody to be investigated by outside organizations. Is there potential for similar bills to be passed elsewhere?

When police kill, should they be the ones responsible for investigating and judging themselves? This is the question Michael Bell has been asking officials in Wisconsin ever since his 21-year-old son, who was named after him, was fatally shot by Kenosha police in front of the son's mother and sister in 2004.

And it was largely Bell's activism - a publicity campaign involving billboards, newspapers ads and his website - that led to the recent passage of a historic law that will overhaul police review policies. It is the first law of its kind in the nation.

The legislation, which Gov. Scott Walker recently signed into law, requires that deaths in police custody be investigated by an outside agency, using independently gathered evidence. Bell and about two dozen other family members of police victims attended the private signing ceremony.

"It was a very healing moment for our family," Bell told Truthout.

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