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Judge grants short-term restraining order in opposition to Harford County sheriff

Thursday, April 28, 2022
David Collins, WBAL-TV

A Harford County decide granted the Maryland legal professional basic’s request for a brief restraining order in opposition to the county sheriff.

The legal professional basic is alleging the sheriff is obstructing the state’s unbiased investigation right into a deadly taking pictures involving two of his deputies.

This report will likely be up to date.

Listen: WBAL’s Robert Lang spoke to Attorney General Brian Frosh who argued the case.

The Background

A brand new legislation mandating unbiased investigations of deadly police-involved shootings is being challenged for the primary time.

Members of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office’s Independent Investigations Division have been referred to as Saturday afternoon after two Harford County sheriff’s deputies fatally shot 53-year-old John Raymond Fauver who authorities mentioned was suicidal and believed to be armed with a protracted gun.

In a grievance filed Monday, Attorney General Brian Frosh alleged Harf0rd County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler blocked IID investigators from gathering proof wanted to have interaction in an unbiased evaluate of the incident, a evaluate required by a brand new state legislation that took impact in October. The new legislation is meant to make sure legislation enforcement would not examine themselves.

The decide was tasked to resolve whether or not the IID has unique authority to conduct unbiased investigations of deadly police shootings, and what sort of cooperation is required from legislation enforcement companies.

The Arguments

The two sides argued their circumstances Thursday morning earlier than Harford County Circuit Court Judge Yolanda Curtin.

The decide requested, if she grants the short-term restraining order, how quickly may the proof be turned over? Frosh mentioned he expects the timeframe to be a half day to 24 hours, to which the sheriff’s attorneys agreed.

INTERPRETATION OF THE LAW

The decide mentioned the case boils all the way down to a elementary distinction within the interpretation of the statute. The legal professional basic mentioned the statute requires proof to be turned over and requires cooperation. The sheriff’s attorneys mentioned he has a constitutional obligation to research crimes in Harford County.

The sheriff’s attorneys mentioned there’s nothing within the state legislation that claims the sheriff cannot examine and that the legal professional basic has an excessive interpretation of the statute, considering it permits IID to take over.

Frosh mentioned the sheriff’s actions are precisely what the brand new state legislation was designed to stop.

The sheriff’s attorneys mentioned the legal professional basic “wants us to stand down. We are investigating a crime. You can’t split the crime scene.”

Frosh mentioned nobody has indicated there was one other incident to research associated to the police taking pictures and that they’re centered on that.

The decide mentioned she finds the legal professional basic’s court docket filings, together with the legislative historical past and arguments for and in opposition to the invoice, useful to grasp its intent.

The sheriff’s attorneys instructed the decide it isn’t within the public’s curiosity to increase the duties of the legal professional basic’s workplace, saying his protocols do not have the authority of legislation.

EVIDENCE SOUGHT/CHAIN OF CUSTODY

The legal professional basic is in search of police body-worn digicam video, civilian digicam video, entry to witnesses, police radio recordings, 911 calls and bodily proof to be despatched to the Maryland State Police crime lab.

The Harford County sheriff desires to make use of a criminal offense lab in Frederick as a result of it is sooner. Frosh argued that lab isn’t accredited. The sheriff’s attorneys argued handing over proof now will likely be a chain-of-custody situation.

Harford County sheriff responds to interference claims over dying of suicidal man:

Frosh mentioned there have been 12 to fifteen officers on the scene, all with physique cameras. He mentioned there have been additionally vehicles with dashcams and not less than three civilians recorded one thing on video. Frosh mentioned he desires his investigators to make use of their very own computer systems to observe, analyze, sync and evaluate the video in sluggish movement.

SHERIFF’S ATTORNEYS SAY IT’S A CHAIN-OF-COMMAND ISSUE

Frosh mentioned Gahler desires to oversee the unbiased investigation however that the sheriff “doesn’t get to dictate the terms of our investigation.”

The sheriff’s attorneys mentioned this case isn’t about cooperation and transparency, it is in regards to the legal professional basic wanting to regulate the sheriff, and he is asking the court docket to take the sheriff’s duties away.

The sheriff’s attorneys mentioned giving proof to the Maryland State Police is a chain-of-command situation that may trigger irreparable hurt and that preserving the established order won’t disturb it.

The Court Documents

| PDFs: Court paperwork filed by the legal professional basic

| PDF: Correspondence between HCSO, AG’s workplace (supplied by the HCSO)

| PDF: Letter from AG Frosh to Sheriff Gahler (dated April 26, 2022, supplied by the AG)

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