On Monday, a grand jury declined to indict the officers involved in the fatal shooting. Henry was killed after officers came across a group of people "brawling" in front of a bar in Thornwood, New York. There are conflicting reports, but at some point, Henry was moving his car - perhaps at the request of the police - when officers say he hit or drove at them and they opened fire, killing Henry.
The district attorney says that the grand jury thoroughly looked at the case, hearing from 85 witnesses and reviewing more than 100 exhibits before reaching its decision not to charge the officers. That sure sounds like an exhaustive review. I've never spoken to the DA, but I'm confident that she would say that this grand jury fulfilled its historic role as a protective bulwark standing between the ordinary citizen - here, a police officer - and a potentially overzealous prosecutor (who, in this case, was probably feeling a lot of public pressure to indict).
Henry's father and the Henry family lawyer aren't buying. They are highly skeptical of a system where the prosecutor who works very closely with a police department is in charge of investigating that same department and presenting evidence of any alleged wrongdoing to a grand jury. They feel that the grand jury process is so heavily weighted toward the prosecution that the DA could easily have obtained an indictment if she had wanted one ("any prosecutor worth her salt can indict a ham sandwich").
So, which is it? A useful system where ordinary citizens protect the weak and unpopular from unjust accusations, or a "rubber stamp" for the prosecution? How you view the Henry case will go a long way toward answering that question.
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