Arraignment in Moore case postponed (with video)
Dozens show up to support former chief, lieutenant
Chris Durant and Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 12/11/2007 02:04:57 AM PST
The arraignment of a former Eureka police chief and a current lieutenant indicted by a criminal grand jury for involuntary manslaughter in the April 2006 shooting death of Cheri Lyn Moore was postponed Monday at the defense's request.
Superior Court Judge John T. Feeney set a new arraignment date of Feb. 21, and said the grand jury transcript and indictment would “remain sealed until further order of the court.”
Feeney allowed Lt. Anthony Zanotti and former Police Chief David Douglas to remain free on their own recognizance.
Feeney started the arraignment by disclosing that he was a law partner with Douglas' attorney, Bill Bragg, in the past and that he worked on a housing advisory board for the city of Eureka in the late 1980s.
There was a standing-room-only crowd in the courtroom, with about 90 people, mostly law enforcement personnel from various agencies, watching the short proceeding. Neither the defense nor Deputy District Attorney Allan Dollison objected to Feeney hearing the case.
Bragg, who, along with John Hamilton of the Santa Ana firm Ferguson, Praet and Sherman, is representing Douglas, said the defense team requested the continuance to allow it time to review
the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings, which were not available as of Monday.
Bragg, who has experience representing law enforcement personnel, said he has never heard of commanding officers facing indictments for the aftermath of their decisions.
”It's a unique situation,” he said.
Asked if he was surprised to learn of the indictments, Bragg replied: “A surprise implies different types of emotions, and I wouldn't necessarily say I was surprised, given the personalities involved.”
After the brief hearing, the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office officially confirmed for the first time that the criminal grand jury convened last month handed up felony indictments of involuntary manslaughter to Douglas and Zanotti.
The district attorney's office said the indictments came after days of testimony from numerous witnesses in front of the grand jury, whose members were drawn from the regular jury pool.
Moore, who had a history of mental illness, was shot and killed April 14, 2006 by Eureka Police officers in her second story apartment at Fifth and G streets. During the preceding two-hour standoff, Moore brandished a flare gun, threw things from her second-story window and threatened to burn down the building.
Police have said they believed Moore had put down the flare gun when the decision was made to storm her apartment. Upon entering, officers said they came face to face with Moore, who was pointing a flare gun at them. Officers shot Moore multiple times.
While former EPD officer Rocky Harpham and Sgt. Michael Johnson fired the fatal shots, Zanotti and Douglas were the commanding officers at the scene. Legal experts said what makes this case highly unusual is that Zanotti and Douglas are facing charges, while those who fired the fatal shots are not.
The district attorney's office press release stated that Douglas and Zanotti each face up to four years in prison if convicted.