By Ananda Shorey
WASHINGTON – A District Heights mother brought her crusade for justice to Capitol Hill Wednesday, seven years after she said police officers wrongfully shot and killed her son.
Dorothy Copp Elliott said her son, who was pulled over on suspicion of driving drunk, was shot 14 times while he was sitting in a police cruiser with his hands cuffed behind his back.
Police said they thought Archie Elliott was reaching for a handgun when a District Heights and a Prince George’s County police officer opened fire into the cruiser, shooting 22 rounds.
“I have lost a loved one at the hands of police killing,” said Elliott, who wore a picture of her son on her lapel. “But the travesty of justice is that no one involved in the killing was indicted.”
Elliott was one of several speakers at a news conference to unveil a bill aimed at improving relations between police and minorities. Civil rights activists said the bill is not meant to point a finger at law enforcement officials, but to help allay the suspicion that exists between police and many minorities.
Supporters of the bill said that the federal government has to intervene in order to help restore confidence in law enforcement.
“Integrity in law enforcement has been lost,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks, D- N.Y., co-chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus task force that studied the issue. “What this bill does is put that integrity back in law enforcement.”
The Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act was sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who said it would create a national minimum standard for law enforcement agencies. He said that it addresses police misconduct, racial profiling, civilian deaths in police custody and protection for officers who blow the whistle on bad cops.
“We’re taking our laws and putting them under a microscope,” Conyers said.
Activists stressed the need for bipartisan support on the issue.
“This is not a Republican problem or a Democratic problem,” said Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “It is an American problem.”
Elliott said her problem was that people who saw her son’s body assured her that the officers would not only be kicked off the force, but that they would also have to serve jail time. But that never happened.
“We cannot condone police misconduct and impunity of the law,” she said. “Pass this act and stop the killings.”