Baker: We should file bill calling for death penalty for cop killers
BOSTON >> Following the May 22 fatal shooting of an Auburn police officer, Gov. Charlie Baker says he may file legislation that would impose the death penalty on those convicted of killing police.
"I think we should at the start of next session, absolutely. And have that debate," Baker told "Keller at Large" host Jon Keller, who asked Baker in a televised interview on Sunday if he would file a bill.
The death penalty was outlawed by the Supreme Judicial Court three decades ago, and efforts to reinstate it since then have failed, with opponents pointing to cases where incarcerated individuals were found to have been wrongly convicted of crimes.
On Nov. 6, 1997, after death penalty legislation had cleared the state Senate by a comfortable margin, legislation reinstating capital punishment was defeated in the House after Rep. John Slattery, D-Peabody, switched his vote and doomed the measure 80-80.
Last month, Auburn police officer Ronald Tarentino Jr. was shot and killed during a traffic stop. Baker subsequently said he would support the death penalty for those convicted of killing police officers.
The suspected gunman, Jorge Zambrano, died in a shootout with police. Media reports about Zambrano's extensive record have prompted the courts to review his criminal justice system history.
When asked by Keller if there is a problem with lenient judges, Baker did not offer an opinion, and instead said he's interested in the outcome of the investigation and what elements of the current system may need to be changed.
"I think all of this stuff is case specific. I'm not willing to comment on that generally one way or another. What I will say is there are some troubling elements to this story and I want to know what the process was and the decision points were. For example, if part of the reason why there wasn't a dangerousness hearing — with respect to this particular gentleman — was because assault and battery on a police officer is a misdemeanor and not a felony, maybe it should be a felony," Baker said.
Last month Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey said that a preliminary review of court decisions involving Zambrano found "that no law, court rule or court procedure was violated."
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