ER - 4/23/2006 Reserve judgment on shooting; question about timing lingers

ER Reserve judgment on shooting; question about timing lingers
by Glenn Franco Simmons, 4/23/2006

Given the professionalism of the Eureka Police Department’s SWAT members and the extraordinary training they receive, I believe team members acted in response to what could have been lethal force used against them.

Whatever Cheri Moore had in her possession had to have been interpreted as potentially lethal by SWAT members, thereby causing a member or members to shoot and kill her.

Now, before you write angry and accusatory letters to me, let me say this: I have a lingering question regarding the shooting. Did enough time transpire before SWAT members entered her apartment?
I have more questions: Did they enter the apartment in that short time frame because Moore was threatening to burn down the building? Could a flare gun be used to start a fire? Could firefighters be protected had she started a fire and remained armed?

Answers to those and other questions will be provided by the interdisciplinary team investigating the shooting. I have complete faith in that team’s objectivity. We will soon know what transpired, and it is at that point that we can then make educated judgments about this tragic event.

For several days, we’ve had some people ask us if we would have purchased a flare gun to demonstrate its lethality.

The answer is no, and that’s not just because the Times-Standard thought of it — we didn’t, and it never occurred to us to take part in such an amateurish “investigation” in that manner.

The Times-Standard’s experiment lacked many things — including body armor and a shield that may have been used by SWAT members — that I’m sure forensics experts could have a field day with.

We have also been asked if we would have printed excerpts from what is reportedly Moore’s diary. We didn’t face that choice because the Times-Standard had an exclusive on it, but the consensus among Eureka Reporter staff is that it was inappropriate to publish such excerpts. Staff feels such publication is more like tabloid journalism that you are assaulted by at the grocery store’s checkout stand.

With regard to Thursday’s Eureka Reporter editorial on supporting gay marriage, we received some community support and some community opposition.

The editorial board consists of the publisher, managing editor and assistant managing editor. As a board, they determine what the newspaper’s editorial will be. Editorial topics are presented to the board for consideration from a variety of sources, including board members themselves.

Once a subject is approved by the entire board or a board majority, it becomes the newspaper’s official position.

Any editorial board member may choose to oppose the majority’s decision and write a commentary expressing a different view.

With regard to the use of “alleged” in rape cases, The Eureka Reporter recently received some e-mails and phone calls regarding such use. In recent stories regarding alleged rapes at HSU and Whitethorn, The Eureka Reporter has referred to the alleged rapes as alleged, the victims as alleged and the suspects (in the Whitethorn case) as alleged perpetrators.

The Eureka Reporter’s policy is to use alleged rape, alleged rapist and alleged victim until a jury or judge determine that a crime has indeed occurred. This is an ethical decision and it is partly based on the advice of our legal counsel.

We once ran into a situation where a local teenager was referred to as a rape victim. We referred to her as such, but it turned out she fabricated the story. In that story, a perpetrator had not been identified, but had he been identified, the newspaper would have been negligent had he been vindicated.

We learned our lesson; however, that said, I believe most charges of rape are later substantiated and it’s a sad reflection on society that many rapes go unreported.

(Glenn Franco Simmons is the managing editor of The Eureka Reporter.)
Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved.

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