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Grand jury review of police shootings questioned

April 23, 2012 • State News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Grand juries reviewing police shootings in Bernalillo County and Albuquerque operate under a highly unusual process where they don’t have the power to indict an officer even in the most egregious cases, only determine if the shooting was justified.

Police officials for years have countered criticism of dozens of officer-involved shootings by noting that every case has a grand jury review.

But an analysis of the proceedings by the Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/Ihp2lx ) shows the panels are not only toothless but aren’t even instructed on possible criminal violations. All they hear is the law on justifiable shootings like self-defense.

Prosecutors defend the process, saying the reviews should inspire public trust.

But Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said it may be time for the district attorney to consider other options in order to ensure the public has faith in the process.

“It is incumbent, in order to gain the public trust, that each case be reviewed independently based on the comprehensive investigation that’s presented to them,” he said. “A one-size-fits-all approach may not be in the best interest of the community.”

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