ERE - 5/25/2006 Moore shooting headed for Grand Jury?

Officers from the Eureka Police Department shot and killed 48-year-old Cheri Moore after she brandished a flare gun during a standoff. File photo/The Eureka Reporter

Moore shooting headed for Grand Jury?
by Heather Muller , 5/25/2006

Each of the two candidates for Humboldt County District Attorney dropped a bombshell Thursday afternoon relating to the investigation into the Eureka Police Department’s fatal shooting of Cheri Moore.

Deputy District Attorney Worth Dikeman went first, calling in pointed terms for incumbent DA Paul Gallegos to hand off the investigation to the California Attorney General’s office, and accusing Gallegos of making “political hay” by prolonging the investigation.

Gallegos shot back, calling Dikeman’s remarks “an unadulterated lie that follows many, many other lies. I’m outraged. Completely outraged.”

Gallegos insisted that key documents in the case had not yet been received by his office, including a report from the California Department of Justice and the coroner’s report.

“When this is over,” Gallegos said, “you’ll understand how important the coroner’s report is to this investigation. I cannot possibly emphasize enough how important the coroner’s report is to this investigation.”

But Dikeman suggested there were other reasons for the pace of the investigation.

“(Gallegos) has a history of rewarding his allies and punishing those who oppose him,” Dikeman said, an apparent reference to the Eureka Police Officers Association, which, along with other local law enforcement union groups, has backed Dikeman’s campaign.

“I do not believe that the Attorney General’s office should routinely be involved in a case simply because the person being investigated is a police officer,” Dikeman said. “However, (Gallegos’) history of questionable practices, his failure to expeditiously resolve this matter and his strained relationship with the rest of the law enforcement community, including the Eureka Police Officer’s Association, make this an appropriate case for the Attorney General to exercise his discretion under the government code and take full charge of the investigation.”

Gallegos replied, “I’m outraged. Completely outraged. It’s one thing to tell lies about me, but it’s another to tell lies that could undermine the public’s confidence in the integrity of this investigation, of this office and of the Eureka Police Department.”

In a more measured response, Gallegos stated in a news release that he had asked Humboldt County Coroner Frank Jager to hold an open Coroner’s Inquest, adding that he expected Jager would comply with that request.

When asked about the timing of his request, Gallegos said that he had informally asked Jager for an inquest weeks ago, but on Thursday, following Dikeman’s news conference, he “reconfirmed the request.”

The Gallegos release stated, “The District Attorney’s Office is continuing its investigation into the shooting death of Ms. Cheri Moore. At the conclusion of the investigation, we will determine if there is a need to present the case to the Humboldt County Criminal Grand Jury. If the matter proceeds in that manner, we will request, and I am confident will receive, a public session of the Grand Jury.”

But Dikeman said that the officers involved in Moore’s shooting had already been cleared and returned to duty. He said that he believed there should be sufficient information by now to make a decision as to whether the officers would face any criminal charges.

“On April 14th, shortly after Ms. Moore was shot, the Critical Incident Response Team was called out. CIRT is a multi-agency investigative unit of which the head is the District Attorney’s office,” Dikeman said, reading from prepared remarks.

“Thirteen days after Ms. Moore’s death, on April 27th, (EPD) Chief (David) Douglas held a press conference, discussed the investigation and announced that the shooting was tragic but justified,” according to Dikeman.

But Gallegos, Dikeman continued, had not yet responded to repeated requests for his decision regarding any charges that might stem from the incident — “40 days after the incident and 27 days after Chief Douglas’s press conference,” Dikeman said.

Gallegos said the investigation would not be completed until after all of the information related to the shooting had been received. “Our commitment here is to the community and to conducting a full and fair investigation. Worth is playing a game with this case, and it’s not a game we have any interest in.”

Gallegos added, “He has worked to compromise other cases, but nothing, nothing like this.”

Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved.

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