Harris Pressured to Seek Death For Alleged Cop Killer

by TChris

Principles come with a price. When Kamala Harris ran for district attorney in San Francisco, she promised she would never seek the death penalty. Now some of her supporters have abandoned her because she intends to keep that promise.

Harris isn't seeking the death penalty for David Hill, a 21-year-old accused of killing a police officer. Some of the police unions that endorsed Harris during her campaign -- apparently not realizing that her campaign pledge applied to all defendants, including those accused of killing cops -- have asked California's attorney general to take over the case and to pursue Hill's execution.

Harris might expect to find some support from other politicians (who should know how important it is to keep campaign promises) but it's rare to find a politician who doesn't want to jump on the death bandwagon in a high pofile case involving a sympathetic victim. Sen. Dianne Feinstein says she might not have endorsed Harris if she knew that Harris' pledge didn't make an exception for cop killers. In Feinstein's mind, it seems, the victim's occupation should determine whether his murderer is executed. Sen. Barbara Boxer has asked federal prosecutors to step in.

Even death-happy John Ashcroft is unlikely to order federal intervention in a case lacking an obvious federal interest. Nor is the California attorney general's office likely to intrude in a local prosecution without being invited by the local prosecutor. The decision belongs to Harris; it's the kind of decision voters elected her to make. Harris will continue to face criticism for standing up for her principles, but her principles got her elected. She shouldn't abandon them -- or the people who voted for her -- to silence the complaints of pro-death forces.

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