Editorial | Outside Prosecutor Needed For Bedford BLM Shooting Case | New
The best chance for justice in the Black Lives Matter shooting in Bedford County is for the case to be pursued by the state attorney general’s office.
Nine months after a nighttime shooting on August 24, 2020, involving Black Lives Matter marchers, and two months after receiving the report of a State Police investigation into the incident, the Bedford County prosecutor brought forward complaint against two men.
Lesley Childers-Potts took action on May 7 – just as reporters from The Tribune-Democrat and Spotlight PA buzzed around the courthouse and filming scene like bees at the beehive, and just as we were on the point to point out that we had learned the state police. filed its report on the Rural Route 30 incident in March.
We do not see this as a coincidence, but rather as a cause and a consequence.
“After two months of reporting from the state police sitting there on his desk, I can’t help but wonder if the pressure to be revealed prompted him,” said Alan Cashaw, section chairman. from Johnstown of the NAACP, to reporter David Hurst.
Yes it is.
The delay only fueled division in the community, where allegations of racism clashed with the belief that a landowner was acting in self-defense.
Fears and heated emotions sparked a rally the next day at the Bedford County Courthouse – with residents wielding high powered guns – and a second shootout at a nearby hotel where protesters were staying before leaving town.
We were troubled by the fact that state police took seven months to complete an investigation into the shooting – although ballistic reports were never quick.
We found it even more disturbing that the prosecutor waited two months to respond to the police investigation and only acted under pressure from journalists.
It matched our experiences with Childers-Potts in the weeks and months after filming. Our numerous calls to his office did not elicit a response.
As late as March 22, reporters from The Tribune-Democrat and Spotlight PA visited the Bedford DA office. She did not speak to them and an aide told them that the incident was still “under investigation”.
We believe the appropriate charges have been laid, including many serious charges against Terry Myers, 51, of Schellsburg.
But will the case ever see the interior of a courtroom?
We are not convinced that the Bedford County District Attorney’s Office can bring a fair and just prosecution in this matter – or even that it wishes to do so.
Perhaps we should commend Childers-Potts for taking a step that is certainly unpopular in Bedford County and throughout the region – to charge a white man with an act of violence against another individual, a stranger, who does not was not white.
She also brought serious charges against a walker who landed at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center to have a buckshot removed from his face.
• Myers – who state police said fired a 12-gauge shotgun at a crowd who pulled up in the parking lot of his father’s business, Myers Garage – was charged with assault. aggravated with a lethal weapon, 19 counts of recklessly endangering another person, and simple assault.
• Orsino V. Thurman, 37, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin – who state police say fired a handgun after Myers fired in the air and then hit him with a shotgun in the face – was charged with two counts of simple and reckless assault. endangering another person and two summary counts of trespassing provocation and criminal mischief – and illegal possession of a firearm.
This latest charge was linked to Thurman’s 2000 conviction for drug possession in Wisconsin, which meant he couldn’t legally carry a gun.
Thurman was called the security guard of the Wisconsin group, despite being a convicted felon. For illegal possession of a firearm and for discharging that weapon, he deserves to face charges. At the end of the week, he had not been formally arrested and Thurman had not been found.
Myers was free from $ 75,000 of unsecured bonds. He faces second degree felony charges carrying a possible sentence of 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of $ 25,000.
Yet the filing of the charges did not sufficiently clarify the direction of this case.
“People need to know what happened,” Schellsburg resident Max Bulger said in our Saturday article.
“Otherwise, everyone will continue to argue over two different stories. It’s hard to know what is what. “
We agree. Evidence should be presented to the public in a courtroom.
We see a certain degree of fault on both sides of this situation – questionable judgment, overreacting, use of guns in the discussion – all against a background of racial tension.
We also believe that the District Attorney’s handling of the situation raises serious doubts as to his ability to fairly and fully enforce the dispute in this case.
Molly Steiber, spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, said the state attorney accepts cases referred by county attorneys for lack of local resources or for a potential conflict of interest, under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act. Either of these circumstances could be considered a factor here.
The filming of Black Lives Matter in Bedford County is expected to be handled by the state attorney general in the future.