12.17.2007

TS - 07/23/2007 Countdown to a decision

TS Countdown to a decision 07/23/2007

Now that Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos is involved in a retrial of a 15-year-old murder, it appears certain that his decision on the Cheri Lyn Moore shooting will have to wait till the trial's completion in October. And few are taking bets that we may not have to wait until 2008 for the DA to remove Moore from the bottom of his to-do pile.

Today is the 466th day since Eureka police officers -- after a two-hour standoff -- crashed into the apartment of Moore, a 48-year-old mentally woman who was waving a flare gun. She was hit nine times -- five wounds from a rifle, four from a shotgun.

Was it self-defense, as the officers testified at a coroner's inquest, or a criminal act? The community, the police department and Moore's family all want to know: Is Gallegos in agreement with a report from a multi-agency Critical Incident Response Team that the shooting was “legal and lawful”?

The DA has had his share of controversy, but the Times-Standard has not piled on with the rest. We supported him during an effort to recall him from office. But we have been persistent -- some might say shrewish -- in harping on Gallegos' delay on the Moore decision.

Is it not a district attorney's job to make these tough calls? If the police involved were wrong, then they need to be called to answer for it. If they were not, it is cruel to keep them and their families -- the whole department, really -- twisting in the wind. The saying, “Justice delayed is justice denied” was never more true than in this case.

It is not unfair to say that how Gallegos deals with this decision is how he'll be remembered -- the legacy of his time in office. But as the days fly by on the calendar -- as yet another trial pushes the Moore case off the agenda -- that legacy becomes more and more at risk.

We believe each passing day is significant. But the DA says he won't be pressured, so further editorials no doubt will be fruitless. So instead we'll track our wait with the Gallegos Countdown -- the number of days since Cheri Lyn Moore died, and another day without action by our district attorney.

466: The number of days since the Cheri Lyn Moore shooting without action by District Attorney Paul Gallegos.

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