October 21, 2016
Olympia, WA – The decision by Yakima County prosecutor Joe Brusic to not take legal action in the shooting death of Mario Martinez Torres is yet another stark example of how our state’s law on justifiable use of deadly force is failing our communities of color. Furthermore, this decision confirms the immediate need to fix the broken and archaic law enforcement accountability laws in our state and end the perception that unreasonable and unnecessary law enforcement use of deadly force toward men of color is not only permissible under state law, but now the new status quo in Washington state. The Commission maintains that respect and support of law enforcement and holding law enforcement officers accountable to the expected standards of conduct that value life are not mutually exclusive. To choose one over the other is a false choice.
Over the last year, the Commission has asked for intervention from the local prosecutors, the state and the federal justice department with no relief. As such the Commission calls on policymakers to change the antiquated and faulty system that has led to such unjustified decisions, including amendments to RCW 9A.16.040 that require proof of ‘malice and good faith belief’ and other reforms that can begin to restore the public’s confidence in the prosecutorial and judicial process. The Commission will continue to explore all avenues to ensure justice for our communities is attainable.