King County Superior Court Judge Roger Rogoff stands in court Oct. 10, 2016 in Seattle, during a lawsuit case brought by survivors and family members of people killed in a 2014 Oso landslide against the state of Washington and a timber company that logged an area above the site of the slide. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

King County Superior Court Judge Roger Rogoff stands in court Oct. 10, 2016 in Seattle, during a lawsuit case brought by survivors and family members of people killed in a 2014 Oso landslide against the state of Washington and a timber company that logged an area above the site of the slide. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

Former judge to head office probing Washington police shootings

The state’s new independent office will review cases where police use deadly force.

  • By GENE JOHNSON Associated Press
  • Wednesday, May 18, 2022 4:28pm
  • Northwest

By Gene Johnson / Associated Press

SEATTLE — A former judge and prosecutor is being appointed to oversee Washington’s new independent office to review cases where police use deadly force — the first such agency in the U.S.

Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday that Roger Rogoff, who spent nearly two decades as a deputy King County prosecutor and assistant U.S. attorney before becoming a Superior Court judge in 2014, will head the Office of Independent Investigations.

“Roger’s experiences make him exceptionally suited to lead an agency, independent of law enforcement or the governor’s office, to investigate cases of officer-involved shootings,” Inslee said.

The Legislature created the office at Inslee’s request as part of an ambitious package of police reform legislation last year. The agency’s mandate is to conduct “fair, thorough, transparent and competent” investigations of police use of deadly force to see whether the shootings were justified or warrant criminal prosecution.

The investigations are to be carried out by regional investigation teams, and beginning in July 2023 the office will have the authority to reopen old investigations into police use of force should new evidence arise in those cases.

Community groups have long called for independent investigations of killings by police, and those demands grew louder following a botched review of the 2020 death of Manuel ElIis, a Black man, in Tacoma, Washington. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office initially investigated the case without disclosing that one of its deputies had been involved.

“I intend to lead an agency that conducts excellent investigative work, free from influence, with the goal of ensuring justice by learning the truth behind these incidents,” Rogoff said in a prepared statement.

Rogoff most recently served as legal counsel for Microsoft working on matters of data privacy and public safety. He also spent two years as a criminal defense attorney.

Rogoff is a graduate of Emory University and received his law degree from the University of Washington Law School. He also served on the Washington State Criminal Justice Task Force, which reviewed the state’s sentencing laws.

His appointment is effective June 16.

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