New NJ law: State will now probe fatal shootings by police

David Madden
January 31, 2019 - 10:24 am
New Jersey Attorney General, Gurbir S. Grewal

Kevin R. Wexler/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK

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TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) -- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation that requires the state, not a county prosecutor, to investigate and prosecute any case in which someone is killed by police or dies while in custody. 

It was an issue the governor ran on, and many civil rights groups praised the move, even though it came just a day before a deadline for Murphy to act on the measure approved in December by the legislature.

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Richard Smith, president of the New Jersey branch of the NAACP, said, “I think it’s a real step in the right direction in an effort to build a relationship of trust that basically has not existed in many communities of color, and black communities in particular, when it comes to law enforcement.”

Police unions opposed the idea, and even Attorney General Gurbir Grewal testified against it, suggesting it could hamper investigators in the early hours of their work.

Grewal issued this statement after Murphy signed the measure into law:

“Everyone must have complete confidence that deaths in law enforcement custody will be investigated thoroughly, fairly, and entirely free of bias. While I believe that the current system effectively achieves those ends, the Legislature and the Governor have now acted to adopt a different approach. I will do everything in my power to ensure that the new law is implemented in a manner that bolsters public confidence.”