Police Grand Jury Follies, a four part series:
In just the last year, in Cleveland, St. Louis and Staten Island, we have watched the pathetic spectacle of District Attorneys abdicating their constitutional responsibility to prosecute crimes involving police officers. Yet, rather than owning the truth, that they just don’t want to convict a cop, they each used taxpayer dollars and wasted the time of ordinary citizens to try to make it appear that they fulfilled their obligation to the public. They presented the cases to the Grand Jury.
In Ohio, Missouri and New York, to charge a person with a felony, a Grand Jury must indict. The Grand Jury works as a historic check on the power of the prosecutor, ensuring that ordinary citizens weigh in on the charges before the accused is subjected to the public opprobrium of felony charges. The Grand Jury proceeding is not a trial. There is no defense and no cross examination. The prosecutor presents his best evidence, and the grand jurors decide if there is enough evidence to support a felony prosecution with probable cause. The prosecutor controls the process, and therefore, as it was first elegantly noted by New York judge Sol Wachtler, the Grand Jury would indict a ham sandwich.
Let us begin with the most ridiculous grand jury presentment, the one offered by DA Timothy McGinty to a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury in Ohio. If you are alive and breathing, you have seen the horrifying video of Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann jump out of his car and in a split second shoot and kill 12 year old Tamir Rice on November 23, 2014.
What was the District Attorney’s office doing between then and December 28, 2015, when the Grand Jury came back with its decision not to indict? That’s 13 months. You had the video, you had a second video, you had the 911 call. You scour the area for witnesses, you interview the caller, you interview the two responding cops, and sure, you hire an expert to make the videos as clear as possible and break it down moment by moment. If you think that this process took 13 months+ maybe because the DA’s office was spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to cover up for and exonerate Officer Loehmann, your suspicion is very reasonable.
DA Timothy McGinty was quoted as saying that he recommended to the Grand Jury that they not indict. This is quite possibly the weirdest, most ridiculous thing I have ever heard out of the mouth of a prosecutor. He explained that he was ethically obligated to not prosecute Office Loehmann in the absence of probable cause. Then why present to the Grand Jury? And what if the Grand Jury indicted anyway? Would he have “unethically” prosecuted Officer Loehmann?
DA McGinty presented a case to the Grand Jury that prejudiced them not to indict, he told them not to indict, and they did not indict. That is not “due process”. It’s not really even a process. It’s a politician looking for a rubber stamp approval to cover his ass, at the expense of the Rice family and the people of Cleveland. Cleveland, are you glad you paid for Officer Loehmann’s “show trial”?