Anatomy of a grand jury
As the veil slowly lifts from the Cheri Lyn Moore grand jury proceedings, it raises more questions about how the jurors came to their decision to indict two Eureka police commanders in a SWAT team's shooting of a mentally ill woman.
In an exclusive story in the Times-Standard on Saturday, the unsealed Dec. 3 indictment shows that the jurors did not hear from the two men who were later indicted for involuntary manslaughter -- retired Police Chief David Douglas and Lt. Anthony Zanotti, who was in command at the April 2006 standoff at Moore's apartment.
More than a year ago, at a coroner's inquest, Douglas and Zanotti both were asked about why mental health experts were not called to the scene, and how the decision was made to order the SWAT team into Moore's apartment.
Moore, said to have been distraught at the death of her son reportedly threatened to blow up her apartment building. When the SWAT team burst in, they testified, she had a flare gun in her hand she was slain with nine shots from two officers. The officers themselves were not indicted in the case.
The grand jury transcript and videotape of the witnesses remain sealed for now. When they are made public, they will show what evidence was presented -- not only details already revealed at the coroner's inquest, but perhaps new information uncovered by the district attorney's office in the 15 months since. It also will show the instructions given by District Attorney Paul Gallegos to the jury to guide their decision. (Under grand jury procedures, Gallegos had complete discretion as to what evidence was presented.)
Arraignment of the two commanders, who face up to four years in prison if convicted, is scheduled for Feb. 21. Needless to say, a lot seems to be riding on information yet to be revealed.