The Tompkins County District Attorney, Gwen Wilkinson, promises transparency in the investigation of the killing of Shawn Greenwood. Then goes on to say in the Ithaca Journal story:
“This investigation will likely end up as a grand jury presentation,” Wilkinson said. “It would be inappropriate for me to taint that process by sharing a lot of details. But I am going to share with you what I can.”
Which is to say, ‘I’ll tell you things I want to tell you but you’ll only get details if there is an indictment and trial’. This will always be the problem when the government is left to investigate its own actions. Grand juries need independence from the District Attorney. Will the grand jury be allowed to report their findings:
§ 190.25 Grand jury; proceedings and operation in general.
4. (a) Grand jury proceedings are secret, and no grand juror, or other
person specified in subdivision three of this section or section 215.70
of the penal law, may, except in the lawful discharge of his duties or
upon written order of the court, disclose the nature or substance of any
grand jury testimony, evidence, or any decision, result or other matter
attending a grand jury proceeding. For the purpose of assisting the
grand jury in conducting its investigation, evidence obtained by a grand
jury may be independently examined by the district attorney, members of
his staff, police officers specifically assigned to the investigation,
and such other persons as the court may specifically authorize. Such
evidence may not be disclosed to other persons without a court order.
Nothing contained herein shall prohibit a witness from disclosing his
6. The legal advisors of the grand jury are the court and the district
attorney, and the grand jury may not seek or receive legal advice from
any other source. Where necessary or appropriate, the court or the
district attorney, or both, must instruct the grand jury concerning the
law with respect to its duties or any matter before it, and such
instructions must be recorded in the minutes.
That pretty well tells you that the grand jury is just another organ of the state. The purpose of a grand jury is to investigate corrupt government officials as well as standing guard over the People’s right not to be railroaded into court proceedings.
There is a piece in the article that brings to mind a very important point:
In clothing marked with police insignia and badges clearly displayed, the officers approached Greenwood’s van, which was parked but running in a parking spot in front of the liquor store entrance, Wilkinson said. When they identified themselves and tried to persuade him to exit the van, Greenwood resisted arrest, drove over a curb and hit a Dryden police officer with the front of his van. The officer was thrown onto the van hood, then off the hood a few feet onto the grass in front of the van, she said. Officers on both sides of the van screamed for Greenwood to stop as he continued to accelerate toward the downed officer.
The front of the van apparently went over the officer, and Bangs fired his service pistol at Greenwood, Wilkinson said. The incident took about three seconds, and though reports vary, Bangs may have fired three rounds, she added.
“At that moment in time, Sgt. Bangs had to make a decision about the employment of lethal force,” she said. “He made his decision, he discharged his service weapon, and Mr. Greenwood was struck by bullets.” The shooting followed officers’ attempts to pull Greenwood from the vehicle and Taser him, she added.
Now it may just be a reporting style but most people will report an incident in chronological order. I’d really like to here the details of this Taser attempt. Without the details I have to wonder if the victim was in fact shot with the Taser. If he was shot with the Taser he might not be responsible for the accelerating vehicle. I don’t like speculating. We need facts.