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by Peter Moskos

July 16, 2014

D.A. Rickman on Jonathan Ayers

I received the following email today from D.A. Brian Rickman in regards to this post on the 2009 killing of Rev. Jonathan Ayers (you can read all I've written about the horrible killing of Ayers).
Professor Moskos,

Someone sent me a link to the February article you posted regarding the Ayers case. There were a couple of things I wanted to mention. I don't make a huge habit of responding to many articles or blogs, but I feel like I should as some of what you wrote is important to the integrity of the system.

In our criminal review of the GBI file, and subsequent Grand Jury presentation, two outside prosecutors were brought in to also review the investigation, and appear at the Grand Jury proceedings to offer their opinions of the law and evidence. These two outside prosecutors were District Attorney Danny Porter of Gwinnett County, GA, and District Attorney Emeritus Mike Crawford, who was my predecessor in office. In addition, an outside use of force expert was brought in from another State. Both prosecutors appeared before the Grand Jury, and did so outside of the presence of myself or members of my office staff.

There are many aspects of the tragedy that was the Ayers case that lend themselves to a healthy discuss ion in a democracy about the use of force and about law enforcement without question. My particular job, pursuant to my oath, was to ensure a fair review was had for violations of the criminal law in Georgia, which is of course different from the standard in a civil action for damages.

I take my job, and my responsibilities very seriously. While it is not possible for there to be universal agreement about what we do or how we do it, I did want to mention these facts, which were not in the article, because they go to the heart of whether the process was fair insofar as the criminal review. As it appears from your writing, I was the only prosecutor involved in the proceedings. As mentioned above, two outside prosecutors conducted legal analysis and appeared aside from myself or anyone from my office. I do think that was important for the very reason that those steps were taken, that is to ensure a multiple level and independent review as far as the criminal process.

I appreciate your time. I am not asking for, nor urging you to write any sort of correction or make any sort of posting. It is simply important to me that when a writing goes to my integrity, I respond to it.


Brian M. Rickman
District Attorney
Mountain Judicial Circuit
P.O. Box 2138
Clarkesville, Georgia 30523


Anonymous said...

I don't know why he thinks the fact that he held a dog and pony show for the grand jury mitigates the badness of his conduct. In reality, it just makes it worse -- he brought in people who he knew would agree with him to basically advocate for Chance and Billy Shane. He went above and beyond the call of duty in getting murderers off the hook.

David Woycechowsky said...

If you have further correspondence with Mr. Rickman, please consider asking him whether he showed the video to the grand jury. I have always wondered about that, and it seems pretty important.

hotrod said...

Kudos to Rickman for engaging and to Peter for printing this.

I'm going to comment on this at length, but just don't have the time right now. For now - you can read DA Porter's letter on this matter at http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v09/n1161/a05.html .

The last few lines of the letter, the part starting with "involuntary manslaughter" are particularly in context, considering the content\lack thereof of the GBI investigation, the performance of Rickman and his office and his public statements.
It's worth reading in it's entirety.

David Woycechowsky said...

That report says that Ayers was driving toward Officer Harrison. That is wrong and clearly contradicted by the video. Perhaps more importantly, the report doesn't mention that Harrison was driving directly away from Officer Harrison at the time Officer Harrison killed Ayers.