Attorney General Lockyer Issues Statement Regarding Independent Evaluation of the Shooting Death of Tyisha Miller

Thursday, May 6, 1999
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(Sacramento) -- Riverside County District Attorney Grover Trask announced today that criminal charges would not be brought against four Riverside Police Department officers who were involved in the December 28, 1998 shooting death of Tyisha Miller. In January of this year, at the request of Attorney General Bill Lockyer, District Attorney Trask invited Department of Justice staff to participate in the review of evidence and the decision on whether to pursue criminal charges against the four officers.

Attorney General Lockyer announced today that he concurs with the decision to not file criminal charges against the four Riverside Police officers due to his belief that there is not sufficient evidence available to date to secure convictions by convincing a unanimous jury beyond a reasonable doubt under any theory of criminal liability. The Attorney General emphasized that the decision not to file criminal charges was limited to an evaluation of the evidence and applicable rules of law. Compliance with Riverside Police Department policies and procedures, tactical considerations, possible ways to improve training, and issues involving civil liability were not considered in his evaluation of the appropriateness of filing criminal charges.

The Attorney General issued the following statement:

"Last December, Tyisha Miller was shot to death by four Riverside Police Officers while seated in her car. Her death was a tragedy for her family, the community of Riverside and much of the country. At my request, District Attorney Grover Trask allowed attorneys from my office to participate in the review of evidence gathered to date and the decision on whether to pursue criminal charges against the four officers.

While I believe the decisions and actions of the four Riverside Police officers were unwise and ill-conceived, the evidence uncovered to date is simply not sufficient to prove the officers guilty of criminal wrongdoing beyond a reasonable doubt. There were a number of factors that we considered, including: Ms. Miller had locked herself in her car; her car was running; family members had placed urgent calls regarding her condition; and, Ms. Miller had a loaded gun on her lap.

The investigation, however, has revealed a number of allegations of derogatory racial comments and other evidence suggesting there may be an atmosphere of racial insensitivity and even racial hostility within the Riverside Police Department. I take these kinds of allegations very seriously. Racial bias and intolerance are unacceptable anywhere, but especially in a professional police organization. Our law enforcement officers must demonstrate the highest standards of integrity, fairness and justice by serving all the people in our communities. That is why I have initiated an investigation into these allegations to determine whether there have been any violations of California law, including civil rights violations.

I am pleased that District Attorney Trask and Riverside Police Chief Gerald Carroll have agreed to assist me in this effort. I am deeply concerned about the recent erosion of public confidence in the ability of law enforcement to act fairly and without prejudice. We know that the vast majority of law enforcement personnel consistently meet the highest of ethical and professional standards. For that reason, we must take firm and immediate action to restore the public's faith and confidence in our law enforcement authorities."

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