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King County

Charter Amendment No. 1

Inquests

 

Shall King County Charter Section 895 concerning mandatory inquests be amended to: (1) clarify that an inquest is required when a member of a law enforcement agency's action, decision, or possible failure to offer appropriate care might have contributed to an individual's death; and (2) to provide an attorney at the county's expense to represent the decedent's family in the inquest proceeding?

 

Yes

No


King County Charter Section 895 concerns mandatory inquests which are proceedings to investigate the causes and circumstances of a death. Currently the charter requires an inquest for any death involving a member of a law enforcement agency of the county occurring in the performance of the member's law enforcement duties. The charter does not currently require the county to provide an attorney for the decedent's family.

If adopted, Charter Amendment No. 1 would amend Section 895 to clarify that an inquest is required when an action, decision, or possible failure to offer appropriate care by a member of a law enforcement agency might have contributed to a person's death. The amendment would define "member of law enforcement agency" to include a commissioned officer, noncommissioned staff and agent of any local or state police force, jail, detention facility, or corrections agency.

Charter Amendment No. 1 would also require the county to assign an attorney to represent the decedent's family in the inquest proceeding. The family would have the option to accept or decline representation by the attorney.

This charter amendment should be approved because bereaved families deserve to know the facts about how their loved ones died during encounters with law enforcement. 

Your yes vote will ensure that the County Charter protects the right of all families, regardless of financial means, to have legal representation in their loved one’s inquest hearing. Currently, law enforcement officers receive legal representation, either at taxpayer expense or through their unions, in inquest hearings. Your vote will ensure that families have the same opportunity. Providing families legal counsel will create a more fair and balanced inquest process.  

This amendment also clears up confusion about when an inquest will occur. The amendment clarifies that all deaths involving law enforcement will be thoroughly investigated through the public inquest process. This will build public trust and ensure that families, law enforcement and the public are served by an inquest process they can understand and count on. 

King County families deserve to know what happened to their loved ones—and why. Amend the charter and help them find justice. This charter amendment should be approved because bereaved families deserve to know why their loved ones died during encounters with law enforcement. 

Sam Pailca, Katrina Johnson, Andre Taylor, sampailca@outlook.com

No statement submitted.

Statements in favor of and in opposition to a ballot measure are submitted by committees appointed by the jurisdiction. No persons came forward to serve on the committee and to write a statement in opposition. If you would like to be involved with a committee in the future please contact the jurisdiction.

Simple Majority (King County Charter, Section 800)

For questions about this measure, contact: Tom Koney, Deputy Director, Department of Executive Services, 
(206) 263-9755, tom.koney@kingcounty.gov

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