AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Police special privileges in shooting cases face challenge

A proposal likely headed to the General Assembly early next year could end some special privileges Georgia police receive when they shoot and kill someone and the case goes to a grand jury for possible charges.

Georgia is the only state that allows an officer to be in the grand jury room the entire proceeding, hear all the evidence against them and close out the proceeding with a statement that can't be questioned by prosecutors or grand jurors. Prosecutors say it hinders justice in cases where there is a questionable shooting.

"This has nothing to do with how people feel about law enforcement,” said State Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna. “This has to do with the integrity of the grand jury process. Right now, we have a framework that allows for the possibility, the potential, for that process to be compromised or unduly influenced in one direction. That’s something we can’t live with.”

Golick, who chairs a judiciary committee in the General Assembly, said he plans to champion a proposal that prosecutors are pushing to curb some of the privileges granted to officers. They would still get to testify, which most states do not allow, but would be subject to questioning.

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About the Author

Brad Schrade is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter on the AJC’s investigative team.