TS - 11/08/2007 Police Chief hopes grand jury proceedings are made public

Police Chief hopes grand jury proceedings are made public 11/08/2007

EUREKA -- Two days after a criminal grand jury convened to decide whether to hand down indictments in the case of Cheri Lyn Moore, Eureka Police Chief Garr Nielsen said he hopes for an open process.

”I think it's important for the community, in order for them to really get closure in this, to have as much information as possible,” Nielsen said Wednesday. “I'm in favor of the more information we can release, the better.”

As is generally the case, the grand jury proceedings are being held in secret, and both District Attorney Paul Gallegos, who convened the grand jury, and Superior Court Judge John Feeney, who is overseeing the proceedings, declined to comment on the case.

Moore, who had a history of mental illness, was shot and killed April 14, 2006 by Eureka police officers in her downtown apartment. During the preceding standoff, Moore brandished a flare gun, threw items 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 found Moore pointing the flare gun at them. Officers shot Moore multiple times.

Moore's son has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Eureka, the Eureka Police Department and the former police chief over the incident.

Nielsen has repeatedly said that he supports his officers.

”I certainly don't believe the police department has anything to hide,” Nielsen said. “I think the more information the public has, the better able they will be to understand what decisions were made and how they were made. They will have a better idea of what these police officers were facing at the time.”

Nielsen said he is hopeful a video of the proceedings, or at least a transcript, will be made available to the public once the process is over.

The chief said he has made a point of respecting the closed nature of the proceedings, and hasn't talked to any of his officers about them nor has he looked up what names are on the jury's subpoena list. Based on conversations he had with Gallegos, Nielsen said he is under the impression the proceedings will take a couple weeks, but is hopeful they will conclude by the end of the month.

Nielsen said the grand jury's convening has had a noticeable affect on the morale of the department.

”I think it's very stressful,” he said. “There's a lot of tension. Nobody likes to relive it. It was certainly not a pleasant experience for anyone -- it was a tragedy. For the people who were there and experienced it, it was traumatic for them. And, to have to relive it again, is traumatic.”

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