In the paper indy readers love to hate, Clackamas County D.A. John S. Foote responded to a call by the big O for a public inquest. I as well as many others, likely felt that a public inquest offered some hope regarding this matter, even though I know very little about the nature of public inquests and the hope they might realistically offer.
Foote finally piped up in the O today with the following bit:
**********Inquest wouldn't help
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
The Oregonian has called for a public inquest into the death of Fouad Kaady (editorial, Nov. 1). A grand jury has already listened carefully to the sworn testimony of 40 witnesses and visited the scene of the shooting. In addition, Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts released the police reports after the grand jury's decision.
I do not believe a public inquest would further the important discussion that is ongoing about officer-involved shootings. Under Oregon statutes, a public inquest may be ordered to determine the "cause and manner of death." In this case, those are well known. Furthermore, a public inquest is a flawed legal process. The statutes do not clearly state whether the rules of evidence apply or who may participate. An inquest can turn into a forum to air grievances or personal opinions.
In the last legislative session, Senate Bill 301 would have required that grand jury proceedings in officer-involved shooting deaths be transcribed and made public. Unfortunately, it didn't pass. It would have provided a better way to inform the public. I encourage our legislators to approve it in the next session.
******JOHN S. FOOTE, District Attorney, Clackamas County Oregon City*********
Well, that's just too sweet isn't it? Sounds like Foote isn't having any trouble sleeping at night. Sounds like he's hoping the door is finally slamming on the quest for any knowledge about the mysterious course of events that might help to reduce the incidence of such deaths by police in the future.
Where does the public go from here to gain further insight into the complexities of the circumstances leading to Fouad's death on that day. With information from a variety of sources, that the public has been supplied with, doesn't Fouad's death sound like it has the grounds for wrongful death?
Who will take the challenge to discover the causality leading to the death of a citizen at the hands of dubiously trained officers of the law? Who will take up the challenge to defy Clackamas County's desire to callously sweep under the rug a matter they seem to consider only a mere annoyance whose value is limited to parking meter revenue and fines they can gouge out of those conducting the vigil outside the courthouse as the grand jury convened.
D.A. John Foote's comments are just a sad chapter in a continuing sad saga of public officials who unleash improperly trained public employees under their authority upon troubled citizens. Foote shoots down hope for success in a public inquests effort to effectively explore what happened to Fouad Kaady. As a top Clackamas County official, his response to a request for a public inquest in this case raises questions about the degree of humanity that exists in the Clackamas County legal department.
With the exception of his reccomendation that Senate Bill 301 be passed sometime in the future, he offers citizens no other suggestions for learning important information about this case, information that could be highly beneficial to reducing the incidence of shootings of citizens by police in the future. Is this really an example of a district attorney doing a good job for all the citizens of the county he serves?