Challenging times for police and a prosecutor

On June 22, a 12-year-old West Memphis boy, DeAuntae Farrow, was shot and killed by a city police officer. Assistant Police Chief Mike Allen said the child was holding a toy gun and made “furtive motions” towards the officer, at which point, the officer shot.

Relatives of DeAuntae Farrow have said the boy did not have a toy gun. The Arkansas State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are reportedly examining the circumstances surrounding the death.

The Rev. Al Sharpton spoke at DeAuntae’s funeral, which was attended by an estimated 1,500 people. “We want to send a message,” he said. “If you thought you’d make this only local and sweep this under the run, you cannot put boundaries on how far this will go.”

In early July, Brent Davis, the prosecuting attorney for the district that includes Crittenden County, said that he would seek to have a special prosecutor appointed to review an independent investigation of the boy’s shooting.

That’s a good idea. As Davis himself noted, he and his deputy prosecutor had worked many cases in Crittenden County, often with the involvement of the West Memphis police. “We want to have as much objectivity [in] this investigation as possible,” Davis told reporters.

Amid this sadness comes new word concerning the killings 14 years ago of three other West Memphis children. Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of one of the victims, said this week that he had been questioned anew by police. He also said he’d been told that his DNA had been found in the knots binding one of the boys.

The West Memphis police investigated that case and Brent Davis prosecuted it. Two teenagers were sentenced to life in prison; another was sentenced to death.

It’s time to seek a special prosecutor in this renewed investigation, as well. And while we’re looking for objectivity, let’s see that this case also goes before a new judge.