Possible Charges in South Lake Tahoe Police Shooting Caught in Law Change

by Placerville Newswire / Apr 30, 2016 / comments

[by Adam Jensen]  Who should determine whether a police officer faces criminal charges after the use of deadly force — a district attorney or a grand jury — is at the heart of a legal argument surrounding the June death of Kris Jackson in South Lake Tahoe.

The El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office has sought to convene a grand jury to determine whether criminal charges are warranted against officer Joshua Klinge, who shot and killed the 22-year-old Sacramento resident during an incident June 15. The DA’s effort to assemble the grand jury in the matter follows a Jan. 1 change in California law prohibiting grand juries from reviewing officer-involved shootings.

The district attorney’s office filed documents with California’s Third District Court of Appeals in March as part of its effort to use a grand jury to determine if criminal charges against Klinge are warranted. Prosecutors took the matter to appeals after El Dorado County Superior Court discharged a grand jury proceeding over the shooting in February.

The case has attracted attention from the California District Attorneys Association, which has applied with the appeals court to file a letter supporting the El Dorado DA’s effort, according to court documents. The association opposed the passage of California Senate Bill 227, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in August. The law took effect Jan. 1 and prohibits the use of a grand jury to determine whether charges will be brought against officers who use deadly force. 

Supporters of the law argued the grand jury process provides little transparency and allows prosecutors to sidestep responsibility for determining whether to prosecute police officers. Prior to passage of the bill, the DAs association argued California’s grand jury system is more fair than federal and other states’ systems and argued for a more moderate approach to reform than removing all incidents of deadly force from the possibility of grand jury review.

A California District Attorneys Association representative declined to comment for this story. El Dorado County District Attorney Office spokesman Dave Stevenson also declined to comment on the possible prosecution of Klinge, citing the ongoing legal argument.

ABOUT THE SHOOTING... 

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