***URGENT UPDATE/ALERT! This case was TOSSED by the Judge - never made it to trial,
☛ ER http://eurekareporter.com/article/080826-judge-throws-out-douglas-zanotti-case
Feeney said the indictments the grand jury handed down to Douglas and Zanotti in December 2007 weren’t supported by probable cause. Insufficient evidence regarding the former leaders’ alleged failure to oversee other law enforcement was also presented to the grand jury, Feeney said, and instructions given on “exigent circumstances” were inadequate.
The grand jury should have also been instructed on justifiable homicide by law enforcement officials, Feeney said.***
If Gallegos' case against Douglas and Zanotti actually makes it to trial, Douglas is going to need help with the legal bills. Looks like some help is already on the way. Gallegos continues to cost this County money it can't afford to lose.
California police lend Douglas a hand
The City of Eureka recently sent out an impassioned plea to hundreds of police chiefs and law enforcement agencies and associations seeking help funding a legal defense for its former police chief, David Douglas, who is facing involuntary manslaughter charges stemming from the 2006 police shooting of Cheri Lyn Moore.
The results have been immediate. A defense fund created to field donations, which racked up less than $2,000 in its first three months, hauled in more than $11,000 in about three weeks, with contributions coming from law enforcement agencies, associations and individual officers throughout the state.
Douglas and Lt. Tony Zanotti were indicted by a criminal grand jury on Dec. 3, 2007, for their decision-making roles in the April 14, 2006, incident...
...While Douglas and Zanotti, the incident's commanding officers, face charges, none of the shooters were indicted, which many legal and police experts have called unprecedented.
...The Eureka City Council voted unanimously after the indictments to allocate $75,000 from city coffers to help with Douglas' legal defense bills, but the letter sent last month indicates that money is all but gone.
”The case presents unique issues and opens completely untrod ground that demands significant legal work, however, and that money is nearly gone,” states the letter, which was signed by Douglas, City Manager David Tyson and current Police Chief Garr Nielsen.
The letter also indicates Eureka will be hard-pressed to offer more money from its general fund.
”Like many cities in the rapidly evolving financial meltdown across the country, to state that Eureka's economic condition is fragile is an understatement,” the letter continues. “The city's emergency reserve funds are rapidly being depleted due to our bleak state and local economy... The city simply does not have the ability to carry the costs of this case further. Your help is needed immediately.”
The California Police Chiefs Association was one of the first to answer the call, sending a $5,000 check to the fund.
Reached Wednesday, Vacaville police chief and past association president Richard Word said law enforcement agencies are eager to contribute, both to support Douglas and Zanotti and to avoid the legal precedent their convictions would set.
”The potential impacts could be devastating to law enforcement,” Word said. “We're concerned that this could have a chilling affect on commanders who respond to these scenes, which is their job, and make these judgment calls, which is their job.”
Word worries that convictions of Douglas and Zanotti could result in police chiefs taking critical incident decisions out of the hands of their better-trained commanders or, conversely, police chiefs refusing to review tactical plans because of the possibility that doing so could make them criminally liable.
”That's what bugs us,” Word said. “I know there are police officers that commit wrongs and violate the law, and they should be prosecuted. This is totally different.”
...While the $75,000 pledged by the council and the $13,000 in the fund might seem like a hefty sum, they pale in comparison to the hundreds of thousands some experts have estimated Douglas' defense will cost if the case goes all the way through trial.
...One lesson already learned from the situation, Word said, is the need for all acting police chiefs to have insurance coverage.
While Zanotti is being covered by the Peace Officers Research Association Legal Defense Fund, Douglas is not, as he had retired and was operating as police chief under an hourly contract with the city at the time of Moore's death. Thus, he was not eligible for coverage under the fund.
”We talked at our last (California Police Chief's Association) meeting about how all chiefs need to make sure they have legal defense fund coverage of some sort,” Word said.
Look. You've got Bill Bragg on Douglas' side. He knows his stuff. And he has Gallegos' number. This is a good thing.
To contribute to city's defense fund for David Douglas: Send checks made out to the City of Eureka, with David Douglas written in the “for” line, to City Hall, 531 K St., Eureka, CA 95502. Councilman Larry Glass said the checks would only be cashed if needed.
Or Donate via PayPal
(That link can be reached through the City of Eureka website - here)
Related coverage Links to articles, letters and Op-Eds (as complete a compilation of articles as I can assemble)