Civil Liberties Monitoring Project
Redway, CA 95542
August 14, 2006
Humboldt County Coroner
826 4th St.
Eureka, CA 95501
Dear Mr. Jager,
The Civil Liberties Monitoring Project (CLMP) has been contacted with citizens’ concerns about the inquest you plan to conduct on the shooting death of Cheri Lyn Moore by Eureka police on April 14. On April 18, you were quoted in the Times Standard saying, “My sense is there won't be a question about whether the shooting was justified. The questions will be why they went in when they did and whether they could have used other means of force." This announced foregone conclusion, coupled with your law enforcement background and that of your chosen hearing officer, has raised concerns about your ability to conduct an unbiased investigation.
When we spoke on July 24, you told us that the hearing officer you have hired, Bob Hickok, is a former Eureka police officer (in the 1950s) and confirmed that you also were a Eureka police officer, for 20 years until 1990, and worked with Chief Douglas and other decision makers on the Moore shooting. You also said that the use of other means of force probably wouldn’t be a subject of the hearing. Although the decision will be made by a jury and will be nonbonding, much will hinge on what evidence they get to hear. We note that the officers involved in the shooting will get legal counsel at public expense, and it seems that Moore’s family will be underrepresented.
The subject of Ms. Moore’s shooting was often raised during the recent district attorney’s race, with our current DA making the case for separate law enforcement oversight. It seems the voters agreed. Mr. Gallegos also made statements about our county incarcerating the mentally ill instead of treating them. It is our hope that the county will take a serious look at their budget priorities and fund mental health services to the level that incidents like Ms. Moore’s call for help won’t turn into police-lead events.
Philip Crandall has been quoted saying there was once a 'curriculum' regarding how police deal with mentally unstable people in Humboldt County. What happened to that? Chief Douglas said on the radio that Eureka PD makes 100 mental health “checks” monthly: Why? Who in mental health was contacted by Ms. Moore and why was that department not involved in the subsequent events of that day? How can we keep this from happening again?
It is CLMP’s belief that a fully independent investigation of the events of April 14 must answer these questions and appropriate actions taken.
The CLMP Board
Cc: P. Crandall, P. Gallegos, BOS