Inquests into fatal shootings by police in King County to resume

Inquests into fatal shootings by police can resume for the first time in three years in King County, and now will include far-reaching changes that had been opposed by county law enforcement agencies.

Executive Dow Constantine signed an order Wednesday allowing for the inquests, which are required for any death involving law enforcement, the Seattle Times reported.

The new process is intended to provided "clarity for the families, confidence to the public about how the power of the state is being wielded, and clarity and closure for law enforcement," Constantine said.

The new procedures come nearly three years after Constantine signed a series of similar executive orders changing the process with the goal of making it fairer to the families of people killed by police or who die in custody.

The changes moved the inquest process out of the courts and prosecutor’s office and provided families with county-funded attorneys. It also allowed for expanded inquiries into a department’s policies that may have contributed to the death.

Five of the county’s largest law enforcement agencies challenged Constantine’s order, alleging he overstepped his authority. After a three-year legal fight, the Washington Supreme Court upheld Constantine’s revisions and adopted recommendations by some families that expand the process and require law enforcement to participate.

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