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Kozachik: Open the pod bay doors: TPD needs transparency over man's death

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Kozachik: Open the pod bay doors: TPD needs transparency over man's death

"Open the pod bay doors, Hal."

That's Dave in the small orbiter hovering outside the mothership in "2001, A Space Odyssey." Hal's the on-board computer that the crew relied on to run things. In this case, Hal refused to open the doors, which left Dave with a dilemma. Hal was insubordinate, and he was placing an entire mission in jeopardy. You'll have to watch the film to see how it worked out.

We have a dilemma. Transparency — opening the doors on the in-custody fatality of Carlos Ingram-Lopez — is where we have to get. During the 1972 Watergate hearings, U.S. Sen. Howard Baker's opening remarks included the challenge for the oversight commission to learn "what did the president know, and when did he know it." It has been 20 years since 2001, and going on 50 years since Watergate – and we're still chasing transparency. You deserve it, and so does the mayor and Tucson City Council.

What bothers many of us is lack of clarity on what was happening institutionally between April 21, the date of the fatality, and 2 weeks ago when the mayor and members of the Council first learned of the event.

Who knew what, and when?

Until now, our primary focus has legitimately been on the tragic loss and the events that took place that night. But there are lingering issues that need to be openly looked at.

We're told that the person who reviewed the tape of the incident simply didn't think it warranted running up the food chain.

Is one person really tasked with making that decision? If not, did multiple people in leadership come to that same unbelievable conclusion?

Either way, there's an inherent flaw in judgment, and a broken internal review process. Every in-custody fatality should be reviewed by the chief and his immediate staff if for no other reason than to brief them on a significant police/citizen encounter.

Coming to any other conclusion is Hal refusing to open the pod bay doors.

In labor law, termination is gently known as institutional capital punishment. In all of my experience with labor relations I've been taught that if a person's actions are so egregious that they warrant termination, that act needs to happen swiftly. Not two months after the fact.

And certainly not after having returned the person to continue the same duties he was performing when the dischargable offense took place.

Who made that decision in this case? With what level of internal review? More pod bay doors we're going to open, with or without Hal's approval in this case.

When was the case turned over to the Pima County Attorney's Office? The Tucson Sentinel reported the case went to the County Attorney on June 11.

That means there was internal debate over it for days ahead of that date. If it was believed to be of that level of significance, wouldn't that warrant an executive session of the mayor and Council to at least advise us this was all taking place?

Who made the decision to refer it for that level of review? Mayor and Council should not be in the business of voting on what gets referred, but given the significance of cases that do, might it be institutionally wise to at least brief us?

In 1971, Gil Scott Heron released "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." It came out in the midst of social unrest related to race relations, Vietnam and the Nixon impeachment hearings. One stanza goes like this:

"Green Acres", "Beverly Hillbillies", and "Hooterville Junction"
Will no longer be so damn relevant
And women will not care if Dick finally got down with Jane
On "Search for Tomorrow"
Because black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day
The revolution will not be televised

People of all colors are looking for that brighter day. We'll find it with openness and transparency. Chief Magnus has asked the FBI to investigate this incident. Let's toss into that investigation a review of our own internal processes so this never happens again.

Houston, we have a problem. Open the pod bay doors, Hal.

Steve Kozachik represents Ward 6 on the Tucson City Council. Contact him at at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or (520) 791-4601.

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