Judge Rejects Cops' Bid To Usurp Prosecutor's Power In Confederate Monument Cases

Written by on October 5, 2020

A Virginia state choose rejected an try by the Portsmouth Police Division to have the town’s elected prosecutor faraway from felony instances that police have introduced in opposition to state Sen. Louise Lucas (D), native NAACP leaders, and plenty of the town’s public defenders in reference to what police allege was a prison conspiracy to destroy the town’s Accomplice monument.

The choice by Choose Claire Cardwell would enable Commonwealth’s Legal professional Stephanie Morales to deal with the instances, as she was usually elected to do. The Portsmouth police, in what appeared like an effort to battle her out of the instances, tried to subpoena Morales though she wasn’t on the scene of the destruction again in June. 

“The choose’s ruling was that there was no foundation for a request for the subpoena, and subsequently she mentioned the subpoena couldn’t problem,” Edward Ungvarsky, an legal professional representing Morales, instructed HuffPost. “I feel the choose made her determination based mostly upon the details and the related regulation.”

It’s unclear exactly how Morales will deal with the instances now that she’s poised to take over the prosecutions, however she has aligned herself with the progressive prosecutors’ motion and efficiently prosecuted a former Portsmouth police officer for killing an unarmed Black teenager. 

“The upshot of in the present day is that Ms. Morales is the prosecutor in all the instances and she’s going to tackle the instances within the regular vogue,” Ungvarsky mentioned. The subsequent step, he mentioned, can be for the police division to supply Morales with police reviews and different investigative recordsdata, which can then be proven to the defendants the place legally required. 

The bizarre and questionable felony expenses in opposition to Lucas and different outstanding figures have thrown the Portsmouth authorities right into a state of chaos. Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene ― who has now aligned herself with Lucas’ political opponents ― was suspended by the town’s now-former metropolis supervisor. The bulk-white metropolis council, which seems to again Greene, had appeared ready to fireside the town supervisor, who resigned simply forward of a council assembly.

Within the early afternoon of June 10, Lucas was on the web site of Portsmouth’s Accomplice monument after law enforcement officials arrested two NAACP leaders who approached the monument. Lucas, who had no formal position within the Portsmouth metropolis authorities, instructed officers they need to not arrest protesters, a few of whom spray painted the monument whereas she was on the scene. Hours later, after evening fell, demonstrators introduced sledgehammers to the monument and decapitated 4 statues. One of many statues of a Accomplice soldier fell on a protester, severely injuring him.

Lucas subsequently referred to as for Chief Greene’s resignation, saying the police division ought to have stepped in when the scenario grew to become a menace to public security. Portsmouth Police Sgt. Kevin McGee wrote a letter to the town authorities blasting Lucas, calling her rhetoric in opposition to the chief “disgusting” and “repulsive.” 

Greene subsequently praised McGee for sending that letter and allowed him to convey felony expenses in opposition to Lucas and different defendants that he’d beforehand attacked. McGee additionally disparaged Morales within the letter and wrote that he was “afraid of … persecution and prosecution for doing my job.” Police sources beforehand instructed HuffPost that McGee was one of many officers who had pushed for the ouster of then-Chief Tonya Chapman, who was the primary Black feminine police chief within the state of Virginia and who spoke out in opposition to a tradition of racism contained in the Portsmouth Police Division after her dismissal.

Ungvarsky, Morales’ legal professional, mentioned the prosecutor hasn’t but decided how she’ll deal with the 19 instances going ahead.

“As soon as she has the investigative supplies, she’ll take a look at the instances and tackle them within the regular course, identical to she appears to be like at and addresses all instances, after which make no matter actions and choices are applicable,” Ungvarsky mentioned. 

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