Douglas, Zanotti set to be arraigned today in Moore shooting
Kimberly Wear/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 02/21/2008 01:32:00 AM PST
District Attorney Paul Gallegos' involuntary manslaughter case against the two officers in charge when Cheri Lyn Moore was killed hinges on whether they should have obtained a warrant before a SWAT team was ordered into her apartment, according to recently unsealed grand jury transcripts.
Gallegos told the grand jury that former Eureka Police Chief David Douglas and Lt. Tony Zanotti ordered an illegal entry into the apartment, and acted with criminal negligence by failing to “adequately supervise” police, SWAT team members and the negotiation team during the April 14, 2006, standoff.
Douglas and Zanotti are scheduled to be arraigned today on charges of involuntary manslaughter.
In order to hand up an indictment of involuntary manslaughter, Gallegos said 12 of the 18 grand jurors needed to find that Douglas and Zanotti committed at least one of those acts. There was probable cause to indict them if there were no exigent circumstances, that it was an unlawful entry and that the entry resulted in Moore's death, Gallegos said.
”Was -- were the acts of Lt. Zanotti and Dave Douglas criminally negligent? This is not standard negligence, civil negligence, you made a mistake,” Gallegos said. “You made a real bad mistake. Criminal negligence is a whole different animal. It is a disregard.”
Moore, who had a history of mental illness, was shot by Eureka police officers in her apartment at Fifth and G streets after a two-hour standoff in which she brandished a flare gun, threw items from her apartment and threatened to burn the building down.
Police have said they believed Moore had put down the flare gun when the decision was made to storm her apartment. When officers came face to face with Moore, who they say had a flare gun pointed at them, they shot her multiple times.
Superior Court Judge John Feeney ordered the transcripts unsealed Tuesday at the request of the Times-Standard, which argued the nearly 2,000 pages of grand jury testimony should be made public.
At the court hearing, attorneys for Douglas and Zanotti said they were open to handing over most of the testimony, but requested nearly 60 pages of Gallegos' instructions and summation be redacted because “in our opinion he horribly misinstructed the grand jurors.”
Feeney ruled in favor of the Times-Standard, opening the entire transcript.
The documents, made up of five sections, cover about 10 days of testimony, Gallegos' closing argument and jury instructions.
In his last words to jurors, Gallegos raised questions about how dire the Moore situation was, why her building and surrounding businesses weren't completely evacuated, whether enough efforts were made to contact Moore or time given to explore options other than storming her apartment after a little more than two hours.
”This is the life and safety of citizens in this community,” he said. “I am not asking you to hold these officers to a standard of perfection. I believe the evidence establishes that -- I believe there is certainly evidence that belies the claim that there was a fear that this building was going to burn up if they did not act.”
Gallegos also compares the Moore case to a Fortuna standoff that lasted 32 hours, saying Fortuna Police Chief Kris Kitna delayed entry, evacuated the surrounding area and obtained a Ramey warrant before entering the house where a hostage had been held by Michael Allman.
”They use gas. They break windows. They use shields. They use a PA system. I can't recall whether Chief Kitna indicated whether he tried to use the throw phone or not. It was a process that lasted 32 hours,” Gallegos said.
”There is something for us to consider, to look at to see what reasonable people do, what a standard might be. It is a double-edge sword though, because what else do we know? We know that Chief Kitna with the Eureka Police Department and the Sheriff's Department and -- they were there for 32 hours or roughly 32 hours, and what happened? Mr. Allman ended up dead,” he said.
The transcripts show jurors handed up the involuntary manslaughter indictment on Dec. 3.
Kimberly Wear can be reached at 441-0507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Ramey warrant is issued before a suspect is charged with a crime, sometimes with the intent to get more evidence on a suspected crime. It is a warrant issued by a judge, and does not require a case to be sent to a prosecutor first.
A Ramey warrant differs from an arrest warrant. An arrest warrant is issued by a judge after felony or misdemeanor charges have been filed. That means there must be enough evidence for a district attorney or city attorney to file a complaint, and the judge agrees there is probable cause.
Unsealing the transcripts
The shooting death of Cheri Lyn Moore by Eureka police on April 14, 2006, rocked the community.
From the beginning, the Times-Standard believed that the case held enormous importance to the public. The newspaper exclusively videotaped the coroner's inquest that looked into her death in an effort to air as much information as possible.
When Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos announced he'd be taking the case to the grand jury, we petitioned Gallegos to ask the judge to open the proceedings to the public. He argued for that in court, but was turned down by jurors, who needed to approve an open session along with a judge.
When former Police Chief David Douglas and Lt. Anthony Zanotti were indicted by the grand jury, the Times-Standard immediately moved to have the transcripts of the proceedings released, a process that included several hurdles. In the beginning, court officials refused to acknowledge the existence of the case or that an open hearing had been held until the paper directly petitioned Judge John Feeney.
The Times-Standard's legal efforts were led by Roger Myers and his associates at the Holme Roberts & Owen law firm in San Francisco. Myers, a former reporter and editor, is one of California's leading First Amendment lawyers, and is general outside counsel for the California First Amendment Coalition.
The paper was blocked from receiving the records by Douglas and Zanotti's defense team. After repeated motions, the defense largely conceded to our position, and Feeney released the transcripts in their entirety.