ATLANTA – Community activists on Wednesday called for the creation of civilian review boards to investigate police misconduct complaints, citing the fatal shooting of an elderly woman by Atlanta police and the killings of 12 other people by suburban DeKalb County officers this year.
"The police, no matter how difficult their job, are not exempt from community scrutiny," said the Rev. Joseph Lowery, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and chairman of the Coalition for The People's Agenda.
Lowery was joined by close to a dozen other activists. He said that the civilian review boards should have subpoena power and that Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin had told him she was not opposed to the idea.
A spokeswoman for Franklin did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
DeKalb County Chief Executive Vernon Jones said he would take Lowery's suggestion under advisement.
"I respect Dr. Lowery for his experience and commitment to empower the quality of our lives," Jones said.
The district attorney's office is already investigating the 12 lethal shootings by the DeKalb County Police Department. In addition, the Justice Department is "gathering information" about the shootings, according to a letter from the agency to a community activist.
The call for the review boards comes in the wake of the Nov. 21 fatal shooting of Kathryn Johnston by Atlanta police during a raid in search of a drug suspect. Police say Johnston fired at them first, wounding three officers, and they shot back. Family members said Johnston was 92; a medical examiner said she was 88.
Johnston's death is being investigated by local agencies and the FBI.