Two Justice Systems in the USA: One for Police, One for Citizens
There have been a series of really sad incidents involving mostly blacks at the hands of police. This has stirred the media and others to state that there are two justice systems in America: one for blacks and others and one for whites. The reality is more of one for police and one for everyone else. The use of the grand jury, while historical, is a means to be non-transparent about misconduct of police officers who conduct grievous actions against citizens. Granted, each situation IS unique and has its own details, but when a police officer uses excessive force or kills a suspect and the the grand jury method is used to protect the officer under the cloak of justice, it is NOT justice. It is a scam.
Having a police department investigate its own police wrongs is inherently a bad idea. It is bound to have built in bias in favor of the officer even if it is obvious the officer acted out of scope. Look no further than Eric Garner. The video the grand jury saw, called by a prosecutor to look at the evidence, shows one officer using a choke hold that officers no longer were allowed to use. While it was not an unlawful act, it was against police policy. Even as Eric screamed that he could not breath, the officer continued. Eric died from this action despite having other health issues. The coroner ruled it as a homicide. The only person liable for it was that police officer.
Yet, in a grand jury that was comprised of 40% minority (non-white), it was decided the officer did no wrong, no crime happened. Most attorney's indicate that there was the minimum required to prosecute the officer in a trial, which is all a grand jury decides. Whether the evidence would convict him is another matter, but most suspect that at least a conviction of involuntary manslaughter (reckless and wanton disregard resulting in death) would occur after a trial.
The grand jury is a secret, non-public look at the evidence presented only by the prosecutor. While the D.A. used it to determine if a case can be won or not, they have discretion of what the grand jury sees and this can easily manipulate any jury. If the prosecutor really does not want to take an officer to trial, the D.A. can cherry pick what evidence the grand jury sees. Thus, the grand jury can be "steered" into an unjust decision not to indict an officer. This is the justice system for the police who use excessive force during an arrest. If the D.A. does not want to prosecute and officer, all they have to do is use the grand jury system, present limited evidence that exonerate an officer. The grand jury system can be manipulated since there is no opposing counsel or even judge present! Since it is secret, not open to the public, just where is the justice for the victim injured or dead?
Of course, justice may still be served when the federal investigation occurs in both the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, although, the bar is higher to prosecute. In the Garner case, because there is a video of the whole tragic event, the decision of the Grand Jury on Statton Island, NY., is inherently biased and shows how the system cries out for a special prosecutor outside of the police force to conduct the investigation and file charges. Here, a local prosecutor with ties to the police department presented evidence to steer the grand jury to a "no indictment". Statton Island has a long history of being pro-police and is mostly white. Many of the residents are tied to police and the grand jury history of that area show that the grand jury seldom indicts a police officer.
Let's not forget why police were attracted to Eric in the first place- selling loose cigarettes with no taxes. This an infraction, usually dealt with a ticket and fine. Of course, Eric had been arrested 30 times for the same offense, but is this really what police should be wasting time on? His death is wrongful and I am sure the family will seek millions in a civil suit.
The grand jury used in the Michael Brown case was far different. The whole sequence of events pointed to MB's attitude and behavior even before the encounter with Wilson, with MB stealing from a store. There was no video of the actual event, of the 30 witnesses, 50% of them disagreed among themselves of what happened.
Then, there is the Michael Bell case of 10 years ago, where a white college student was shot in the head after being stopped. Michael had pulled up into his driveway to comply with the stop. The video shows the cop simply walked to the car and as the victim was getting out of his car, the cop simply grabbed him and pulled him outside of the camera range of the police dash cam. You can hear shouting. Why he was stopped is conjecture. Michael was to have testified in court against the same officer for a previous incident between the same actors. Obviously, this colors the whole event. Was the officer in trial planning to "silence" the accuser? Worse, the trial was the very next day in 2004. This case still is unresolved as it goes to higher courts. Michael was executed at point blank range according to forensics. Police say he resisted arrested as 3-4 officers claimed. Yet, the audio of that night paints a different picture. The police seemed to have planned the apprehension for non-traffic reasons. The sworn testimony of each officer directly opposed irrefutable forensic evidence provided by the medical examiner. Still, no fault according to internal investigations.
Like this local police force, it embodies a "Home Rule" ethic. That is, the same police force and officers investigate their own. The use of the grand jury can be used in this manner.
It is time for real justice by an impartial outside entity.