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What Happened To Fouad Kaady: Still No Grand Jury Disclosure In Cop Cases

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Still No Grand Jury Disclosure In Cop Cases

from the Portland Mercury

This afternoon, just before the close of the 2007 session, state representatives and senators managed to usher through Senate Bill 111-C, which requires local governments to set up ways to plan for instances in which police officers use deadly force.

It sets up requirements for planning boards, and certain procedures following deadly use of force. But its most tangible—and therefore most controversial—requirement bit the dust in a last-minute compromise to get the bill through both houses.

SB 111 would have made public all transcripts from grand jury trials in officer-involved deaths; since grand juries are run by district attorneys, and since there hasn’t been a successful case against an officer in pretty much forever, there is widespread belief that the testimony and evidence given to grand juries is weighted in the officer’s favor. This is only the latest effort—and latest failure—to get those transcripts made public, in order for the community to gauge the fairness and accuracy of the trials.

In the case of James Chasse, or Fouad Kaady, or any other case in recent history in which someone’s encounter with law enforcement officers ends in that person’s death, police agencies are able to determine how much, if any, of the grand jury transcripts to release. Frequently, it’s zero—in the Chasse case, police chief Rosie Sizer allowed some of the documents to come out.

The effort to unveil the grand juries in cop cases has been going on for years, but is now dead in the water until at least 2009.

SB 111 was carried by Portlanders—Rep. Chip Shields, and Sens. Avel Gordly and Margaret Carter.

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