November 17, 2017

Judge: Pennsylvania State Police tried to avoid scrutiny over shootings

Police Courts
Attorney Generals Race Matt Rourke/AP

In this March 1, 2016, file photo, then-candidate for Pennsylvania attorney general Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli participates in the Philadelphia Bar Association forum in Philadelphia. Lawyers for Pennsylvania State Police are squaring off against the Northampton County District Attorney in court over a grand jury investigation that state police want to shut down. State police argue the grand jury has no authority to investigate whether the agency should use outside law enforcement to probe shootings by troopers. Experts say police shooting investigations should be independent to ensure objectivity. judge will hear arguments on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, in Easton, Pa.

EASTON, Pa. — A Pennsylvania judge has leveled harsh criticism at state police over the agency's attempt to shut down a grand jury looking into how it investigates shootings by on-duty troopers.

Judge Stephen Baratta rejected a state police request to disband the grand jury. 

He ruled the panel will be allowed to file a report and make recommendations on state police policy.

State police argued the grand jury has no authority to investigate whether the agency should use outside law enforcement to probe shootings by troopers. 

Experts say police shooting investigations should be independent to ensure objectivity.

At a hearing in Easton on Friday, Baratta accused state police of trying to avoid public scrutiny. 

District Attorney John Morganelli called the agency's effort to quash the grand jury "arrogant" and "an effort to intimidate."