ER DA considers grand jury investigation of Cheri Moore's death
by Heather Muller , 1
Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos said Thursday that he is “contemplating going forward on a criminal grand jury” to investigate the death of Cheri Moore, a mentally ill woman shot and killed in 2006 by officers from the Eureka Police Department.
The Eureka Reporter announced as much one month ago today, after receiving numerous reports from public officials who said on condition of anonymity that the decision to convene a criminal grand jury had already been made.
At that time, Gallegos would neither confirm nor deny the reports, but said, “This community is entitled to an impartial finding, whether it is by me or by a grand jury.”
The DA appeared to confirm the reports Thursday, but declined to elaborate, citing centuries-old secrecy rules that govern grand jury proceedings.
EPD Police Chief Garr Nielsen, whose officers would be the focus of the criminal inquiry, said he was not opposed to any venue that would provide “a fair and impartial hearing of the facts.”
Nielsen added, “I think Paul’s intent is to bring closure to this for the community and the organization, and I support him in that.”
A criminal grand jury typically consists of 19 community members. Its proceedings take the place of a preliminary hearing, in which a judge determines whether charges brought by the DA’s Office will proceed to trial.
Written material provided by the DA’s Office states that at the conclusion of grand jury deliberations, a juror will notify the DA whether an indictment — or written accusation charging someone with a crime — has been found.
If no indictment is found, the target of the investigation is entitled to a declaration stating as much, but if an indictment is handed down, the accused would then stand trial in Superior Court on charges identified in the indictment.
Gallegos did not say when grand jurors were likely to be summoned, but left open the possibility of proceedings taking place in public session.
Nielsen expressed his support for public hearings, while reiterating his hope that the process would be impartial.
“For me it’s all about it being a fair process, because I’m absolutely convinced that my officers, who were acting under orders, acted appropriately and did what they were told, believing they were doing the right thing.”
Moore, 48, was killed in her Eureka apartment April 14, 2006, after she brandished a flare gun during an approximately two-hour standoff with the EPD.
Gallegos said last month that he believed Cheri Moore’s death to be “a symptom of other, bigger issues that our community has and is faced with. What the diagnosis is will ultimately be decided by others.”
Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved.
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