The decision by police in DeKalb County, Ga., to hand an investigation into the officer-related shooting of an unarmed, and naked, black man to the state bureau of investigation is part of a dramatic re-think, amid continuing street protests, of how to adjudicate cases where unarmed civilians die at the hands of U.S. police officers, the Christian Science Monitor reports. DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander tied the decision to investigate the death of Air Force veteran and aspiring R&B singer Anthony Hill to a broader movement toward having independent investigators handle officer-involved shootings, especially in cases where unarmed black men are killed.
The killing of Hill became the third shooting of an unarmed black man in a span of three days. The shootings in Aurora, Co., Madison, Wi., and Chamblee, Ga., have put police on guard against another wave of public backlash like the one that swept the U.S. last year in the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. “I don't think there's been a radical American change of opinion – I still think a majority of Americans still simply say that if the person didn't resist the police, this wouldn't have happened,” says Lewis Katz, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University. “But at the same time, I think the fact that there are people on the streets now who are saying, 'Black lives matter,' that's why we're beginning to see a change in the investigatory methodology. A lot of people aren't going to walk away and simply accept the police version of events any longer.”