Police groups in Arlington, Virginia, are demanding an apology from a Democratic candidate for commonwealth’s attorney, saying her campaign unfairly accused their department of police brutality.
Police are outraged that Parisa Tafti is pointing to incidents from 1991 and 2015 as examples of police brutality.
On May 19, 2015, police responding to a domestic violence call found a man wielding a metal bar with his 87-year-old mother nearby. After he struck and injured an officer, he was shot and killed.
The shooting was ruled justified and no charges were filed.
But a campaign mailer from Tafti labels it police brutality.
“What we really need is a measure of transparency and independence in this process so that perhaps the state police are investigating or perhaps the special prosecutor comes in to review,” Tafti explained.
“We’re disgusted with the fact that it’s an outright lie what was said and it’s a distortion of the truth,” said Lt. Richard Conigliaro of the Arlington Police Beneficiary Association.
“She’s claiming it’s police brutality just to score points for the election,” he added.
Two police employee groups are taking the unusual step of issuing statements on social media demanding an apology.
“We would ask that she apologize publicly in the same way that she put this out,” said Cpl. Jeffrey Lubin of the Arlington Coalition of Police. “Put out an apology. Acknowledge publicly that the use of force that she’s referencing was justified and legal.”
The Arlington Police Department is staying out of the debate but posted a reminder of its practices on social media.
Tafti’s opponent, incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, issued a written statement saying, in part, “I concluded that his use of deadly force was justified. It's reckless to try and exploit this tragedy for political gain.”
Tafti said she’s the one under attack for proposing reform.
“I’m not anti-police,” she said. “I am pro-community and I am pro-accountability.”
“Anytime a reformer like me comes along, they’re always accused of being anti-police because there is a resistance to change,” she added.
The campaign mailer controversy will no doubt be an issue when the candidates debate Wednesday night.
The primary election is June 11.