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Critics Of Earl McNeil Investigation Call For District Attorney’s Office To Recuse Itself

National City community members and activists gather outside of National City...

Credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS

Above: National City community members and activists gather outside of National City's city hall to call for the San Diego County District Attorney's Office to recuse itself from the Earl McNeil investigation, August 15, 2018.

UPDATE: 3:35 p.m., August 16, 2018:

The California Attorney General’s Office has weighed in on the investigation into the death of Earl McNeil.

The District Attorney’s Office had recently reached out to the state attorney general’s office to see if there was a basis for recusal from the investigation.

A spokesman from the District Attorney’s Office said Thursday, “The California Attorney General's Office has informed us they see no basis for the District Attorney's Office to recuse itself from the review of Earl McNeil's in-custody death.” The spokesman said the District Attorney’s Office plans to continue with the McNeil investigation.

Original story:

There are new developments in the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office investigation into the death of Earl McNeil.

McNeil was hospitalized after being arrested by National City police in May. He died a few weeks later for unknown reasons.

RELATED: What Happened To Earl McNeil?

Community members and activists are calling for the District Attorney’s Office — who took over the death investigation from National City Police — to recuse itself from the investigation.

"The DA has the case," said McNeil family spokeswoman Tasha Williamson. "What we also want you to question is conflict of interest. Because the DA also used Earl McNeil as a confidential informant..."

KPBS has asked the District Attorney's office if McNeil was a paid informant, but they would not confirm. KPBS was able to confirm McNeil served as a witness in a murder trial that resulted in the accused getting a life sentence in 2011.

“Secrecy is not the way to build trust," San Diego NAACP President Andre Branch said. "We are in agreement that the District Attorney should recuse herself (Summer Stephan) from the investigation. This investigation should be turned over to the attorney general’s office or the FBI.”

RELATED: Protesters Call For Resignation Of National City Police Chief In Connection To Death Of Earl McNeil

District Attorney spokeswoman Tanya Sierra told KPBS, "The district attorney’s office has reached out to the California Attorney General’s Office to request their opinion on whether there is a legal basis for recusal. The DA is also including the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Civil Rights Division and is sharing all information with that independent agency."

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office also said the purpose of its review of the McNeil case is to determine if the use of any force was legally justified.

The San Diego County District Attorney's office is seeking guidance from the California Attorney General's Office over whether or not it should recuse itself from the investigation.

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