Submitted by Victoria Woodards, Mayor, Tacoma.
The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office has followed through on its responsibility to hold the facts of these investigations up to the standard of the laws in place today. The news that no charges are being brought against the involved officers will no doubt be received with much emotion by the family and friends of Bennie Branch and Willem van Spronsen, as well as people all across our community.
For many, this news will be deeply troubling and difficult to bear. At the same time, for others, this news will be welcomed. No matter where you might stand, the fact remains that every loss of life is tragic and cause for grief.
Now that the Prosecutor’s Office has made its charging decision, the City of Tacoma will begin its process to evaluate the officers’ actions under City policies. This will include convening the City’s Deadly Force Review Board, which will include two members of the community.
Moving forward, the City Council and I have committed to a community-led systems transformation to become an equitable and anti-racist organization. We owe it to the friends and family of those whose lives were lost to learn everything we can from these cases and use it to inform our systems transformation work. This is a deeply complex and historic time, and it will require all of us coming together if we want to realize meaningful long-term change that improves lives across our community now and for generations to come.