Future Of Sheriff's Department, County At Risk

On Feb. 29 in this blog, R. Scott Moxley foresaw an "upcoming unflattering grand jury report" on the jailhouse murder of John Derek Chamberlain. Chamberlain was beat to death by inmates while Deputy Kevin Taylor, the on-duty officer, allegedly failed to notice the prolonged beating because he was watching baseball on television. Taylor also allegedly informed inmates that Chamberlain, arrested on child pornography charges, was in fact a child molester, and that inmates might receive special privileges if Chamberlain should happen to find himself beaten to a pulp.

Well, the report's out. And unflattering is an understatement. The Grand Jury took particular issue with the Sheriff's Department demanding to investigate the murder on their own, rather than letting District Attorney Tony Rackauckus's office investigate, which protocol does not necessarily demand but certainly encourages.

Kudos to the Register for managing to include some meaty quotes this time. Especially with the future of Orange County at stake.

"Since its written adoption in 1985, this investigative protocol has been honored, without fail, in 129 out of 130 custodial deaths, including four custodial homicides," the grand jurors wrote in their letter. "The only deviation in the more than 20-year history of this protocol occurred on the night of October 5, 2006 in the sheriff's department's handling of John Chamberlain's murder investigation."

"It may never be known what, if any, impact this action had on the results of the homicide investigation," the letter continues. "Clearly, however, it was this conduct … which necessitated the impaneling of the Special Criminal Grand Jury and its ensuing nine month long investigation."

Grand jurors also implored the Sheriff's Department, the Board of Supervisors and the public to review all of the evidence collected during nine months of testimony. "The future course of the Sheriff's Department and the County depend on it," the letter concludes.


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