FBI director: Database coming on police use of deadly force

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, September 28, 2016

WASHINGTON — The FBI will have up and running within two years a database that tracks instances of police use of deadly force, FBI Director James Comey told members of Congress on Wednesday.

The database is intended to capture how often police officers kill citizens and to correct a record-keeping gap that Comey said has resulted in uninformed conversations, based on anecdotes and not facts, about use of force. Demands for more complete records have grown in the past two years amid a series of high-profile deaths at the hands of police officers.

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“Everybody gets why it matters,” Comey said of the database at an oversight hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.

Republican lawmakers repeatedly grilled Comey on the FBI’s handling of the now-closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, questioning him on why the Justice Department granted immunity to her former chief of staff.

It was the second time in two days that Comey has faced questions from members of Congress. He is the sole witness as the House Judiciary Committee reviews the FBI’s performance in what is likely to be the agency’s final oversight hearing this year.

Comey told a Senate panel Tuesday that the FBI is transparent about mistakes, but under questioning from Republicans he offered little new information about the Orlando nightclub massacre or the Manhattan bombing.

The FBI has said it investigated Orlando gunman Omar Mateen a few years before the June shooting and interviewed him as part of that probe. The FBI in 2014 also looked into Ahmad Khan Rahami, the Afghan-born U.S. citizen accused in the Sept. 17 explosion, but found nothing that tied him to terrorism.

Two GOP senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, said they were alarmed that both individuals had at one point been on the FBI’s radar but were not intercepted.

Comey pushed back against the criticism, telling Paul that he had his facts wrong in characterizing the FBI’s investigations into both Mateen and Rahami. He said he had commissioned a review of the FBI’s interactions with Mateen, who killed 49 people inside a gay nightclub, and would be doing the same with Rahami.