Police Advisory Council gets independent attorneys to help with review of police protest response

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council is taking a big step to ensure its reviews of incidents involving police and the public are unbiased.

The council brought in some independent attorneys to oversee and ensure every review presented is fair.

The city of Huntsville is paying for the attorneys.

The 10-member council was created in 2010 to improve the relationship between the Huntsville Police Department and the community. Currently, the council is reviewing the actions police took earlier this summer, including the June 3 protest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis – when Huntsville police, Madison County deputies and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency troopers used several riot control methods, including firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

In a report to City Council, Police Chief Mark McMurray says days before the protest, the department had intelligence indicating a group intending violence against police would be in the crowd.

Huntsville city attorney Trey Riley said in Thursday night’s council meeting the advisory council hired an independent attorney to make sure its review is free of bias. It means the people who review the actions won’t have to turn to the council or the city attorneys for help.

“The administration and the council are the two bodies that we said we did not want to have interfering in their works,” Riley said. “So it was a difficult task for me.”

Attorney Elizabeth Huntley, who specializes in complex civil litigation matters, will take on the role of independent counsel. Attorney Jack Sharman will assist her. Sharman led the investigation for articles of impeachment against former governor Robert Bentley.

“Jack and I certainly hope we can provide the legal guidance and indepedent council that the council needs in order to fulfill its obligations as encouraged in the resolution by the City Council,” Huntley said.

Riley says the advisory council has met twice and has already begun to review evidence.

“I can assure you that with my brief interactions with this council, this is their intention and that they take it very seriously,” he said.

Once the review is complete, the council will present it to the public.

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