Monday, December 17, 2012
Moment of Truth awaits County Prosecutor in Police Chase Aftermath
We phoned Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty last week for his response to the call by the ACLU of Ohio and others for the appointment of a special prosecutor for the Nov. 29 gangland style slaying of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.
While not directly addressing the ACLU request, McGinty’s emailed reply said that he had “asked Attorney General Mike DeWine and Sheriff Bob Reid to thoroughly investigate this matter. I have great confidence in their ability and professionalism.”
The part of the statement that really caught our eye, however, was the first line of the email from his office: “I have never been one to dodge hard work.”
This was a clear signal that the prosecutor intends to take this case head on and that he will be resistant to calls to any calls for a special prosecutor.
Of course, such calls are likely to come from those who suspect the former county judge and one-time assistant county prosecutor possesses neither the temperament nor the requisite degree of probity to seek justice in this case.
McGinty has demonstrated throughout his career, in whatever position he was serving, a bulldog’s devotion to his view of the requirements of justice. He cannot be unaware that his conduct and decisions in this matter will be more closely scrutinized than anything he has experienced in his public life.
No matter how he is viewed today, by his many admirers and detractors, this case will forever shape his legacy as the people’s lawyer.
Will he ensure the full, fair and impartial investigation that all parties and the public deserve? Can he set aside whatever personal sympathies he may have for police officers to determine whether they acted within the bounds of the law and their oaths? Will he excuse or seek to justify the behavior of any officers found to have acted outside the scope of law, regulation, or policy?
And if he finds that one or more or even all of the involved officers went rogue in any manner that violated their duty or the public trust, will he strive with every resource at his command to see that they are brought to justice with the same vigor and lack of equivocation that he would pursue the alleged murderer of twenty-six innocents in Newtown, Connecticut?
It will likely take a year or more, but we are going to find out just what kind of prosecutor we elected last month.
 We generally avoid such loaded language where there are undetermined issues of fact under investigation. But given what is undisputed — thirteen policemen fired 137 shots into a stopped motor vehicle whose occupants were apparently unarmed and without any avenue of escape — “gangland slaying” seems pretty apt.