AG Steve Marshall’s office takes over Riverchase Galleria case
Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office is officially assuming jurisdiction over the shootings at the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving night in order to ensure the important cases meet national prosecutorial standards, confirming Yellowhammer News’ reporting.
During a press conference on Thursday, Marshall explained that his office will handle any and all prosecutions of the respective shootings of E.J. Bradford, 18-year-old Brian Wilson and 12-year-old Molly Davis. Bradford was killed by a Hoover Police officer.
Marshall’s decision to take the cases came after newly elected Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr admitted in a letter Tuesday to the attorney general that potential conflicts between himself and key parties to the shootings existed.
The attorney general emphasized that the perceived conflicts warrant recusal under the gold standard of ethical and transparent prosecutorial conduct – the National District Attorneys Association’s National Prosecution Standards.
In Carr’s letter, he told Marshall that “a fair-minded, objective observer could conclude that a conflict exists.”
Based on the entirety of the information Carr provided in the letter, as well as “multiple conversations” the two men have had, Marshall concluded, “While I have no reason to believe that [Carr is] actually biased or compromised, I agree that other fair-minded persons might question [his] neutrality based on the information that [he] provided in the letter and during our private conversations.”
Marshall explained that the officer who shot Bradford is either the charging officer or a vital witness in approximately 20 cases pending with Carr’s office.
“A fair-minded Defendant (or family member) in those cases could question whether you and/or your prosecutors are biased in favor of protecting the officer from prosecution because the officer’s testimony may be important in his or her case,” Marshall wrote to Carr.
Marshall also outlined that Carr acknowledged personal relationships with multiple activists protesting the death of Bradford, “which could lead a fair-minded person to question [Carr’s] bias in favor of indictment [of the officer].”
During the press conference, Marshall referred to pictures publicly circulating of Carr and at least one prominent protester, seemingly referencing the subject of this Yellowhammer News article about Carlos Chaverst, Jr.
Marshall also called Carr a “friend” and advised that he had great respect for him as a career prosecutor.
The bottom line of Marshall taking over the cases is that Carr has potential conflicts, or at least perceived conflicts, that could tarnish the integrity of the Bradford case regardless of the outcome of the investigation, meaning whether or not the officer is found to be criminally in the wrong.
“We determined that in the interest of fairness and justice for all involved, our office would exercise jurisdiction,” Marshall advised.
The National Prosecution Standards rule that Marshall cited dictates the following:
The prosecutor should excuse himself or herself from any investigation, prosecution, or other matter where personal interests of the prosecutor would cause a fair-minded, objective observer to conclude that the prosecutor’s neutrality, judgment, or ability to administer the law in an objective manner may be compromised.
Marshall, who was the district attorney in Marshall County from 2001 until he became attorney general in February 2017, also stressed that his office understood the sensitivity and importance of the cases.
“Let me make one thing perfectly clear: we understand the gravity of the situation we are now exercising jurisdiction of,” Marshall said.
He added that the team at the attorney general’s office has handled similar cases in the past and are in the best position to handle the situation with the utmost professionalism.
Investigations are currently underway by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). SBI is a division of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). Erron Brown has been arrested and charged with attempted murder already for allegedly shooting Wilson.
Watch the press conference:
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn