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Joe Tamburino Talks Law: Are Police Obligated to Intervene or Not?

An op-ed written by Joe Tamburino about the controversial police response to the school shooting tragedy in Uvalde, Texas has been published by the Star Tribune.

In his article, Attorney Joe Tamburino discusses the DOJ’s recent announcement of a federal investigation into the response by law enforcement, which has been criticized for its delay in confronting the gunman. In particular, he calls attention to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision to limit the scope of the inquiry and make it a civil investigation that can only be used for police training purposes and to prevent similar “critical incidents” from happening in the future, rather than a broad investigation that also looks into whether crimes were committed.

Attorney Tamburino, who frequently serves as a legal analyst on complex and high-profile cases, goes on to question why the DOJ opted to exclude any inquiry into potential criminal liability, especially given details that are already publicly available. He draws parallels to recent high-profile criminal cases and the recent federal convictions of three former Minneapolis police officers for the crimes of failing to intervene and provide medical aid to George Floyd in May 2020. As he notes in his article:

“In that case, the DOJ prevailed on the legal theory that police officers, in a situation where they controlled the movements and actions of people in and around an incident scene, had a duty under federal law to assist a person in obvious medical need.”

Why would the DOJ not follow its own precedent set in the Floyd cases? And what might a reasonable line of investigation look like? Visit the Star Tribune to read Joe Tamburino’s full op-ed, Criminal liability: Are police obligated to intervene or not?


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