Police shootings are handled differently
by John Lytle in ‘Letters to the Editor @ COLUMBUS DISPATCH
There has been much discussion recently about how grand juries treat cases of police shootings of citizens. People wonder how there could be no indictments in the Eric Garner death in New York and the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo.
I have been a grand juror twice in Franklin County, (Columbus, OH) and each time we were presented with a police-involved shooting.
The grand jury generally meets Monday through Friday, ending about noon on Friday. For normal criminal cases, the prosecutor presents enough evidence, including witnesses, to show the grand jurors that the accused might have committed a crime and should be indicted.
If there will be a police-involved shooting case that afternoon, when the grand jurors would normally be going home, they are told on Friday morning that they will not be going home. In these cases, in contrast with normal criminal cases, the prosecutor presents what happened and allows a police representative or some other witness to explain why the shooting was justified and why the officer should not be indicted.
Both times, it seemed that the prosecutor was not trying to obtain an indictment. It might be that this process is how it should work; police probably should be held to a different standard than ordinary citizens. However, I think all citizens should know that this is how the process works . . . . so they can draw informed conclusions.
JOHN LYTLE January 4, 2015
( My life being as full as I can tolerate, I generally don’t spend much time reading the letters to the Editors in our Columbus Dispatch. In this case, I’m very glad I did because I am grateful when anyone can add useful, relevant information we can all use.
I very much value and respect almost everyone who serves the common good especially police officers who lay it on the line every day. . . they are all heroes! Not an easy life, to be sure. Always have, still do and hopefully, always will, so my gripe is not with these valiant people who wear blue. It is with those who set policy, make the decisions, are lax or serve with blind eyes.
And since when did prosecutors get to be the judge and jury and single overseer of how justice is practiced and decide what select pieces of information the grand jury is allowed to hear? This is something far too many of us have suspected. Being rational people, we on average do try not to believe in all those conspiratorial theories, but come on, when the problem keeps going on and seems to be getting worse and more and more prevalent. . .AND they are getting away with this injustice over and over again, somebody has to speak up and for Gawd’s sake — demand why something isn’t being done.
What is happening now is bitter, racist, defies logic and certainly does not equate to equal justice under the law. It’s long past time to stop this charade. . . lets start looking “UP THE LADDER” to where decisions are being made and how, and give much thought to how to change all of it! When murder is done, no matter who does it — it should go to trial! That is not to say police men and women aren’t fully entitled to their internal organization’s procedures and protections. . . no one wants anyone railroaded. But neither can we tolerate this ongoing black genocide in America. This is me — standing on a roof top and screaming as loud as I can. Jan)