Skip to comments.(Breaking:Governor)Owens Calls for Columbine Grand Jury (Students "Gunned By" Swat,+KleboldAutopsy)
Posted on 01/05/2002 12:26:27 PM PST by t-shirt
Governor recommends that county attorney convene special panel
January 4, 2002 By John Sanko and Charlie Brennan, News Staff Writers
Gov. Bill Owens Thursday called for a grand jury investigation into the Columbine High School shootings. The governor, who impaneled his own state commission to review the 1999 tragedy, said Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas should convene a grand jury on Columbine.
"I think Dave Thomas should re-examine his earlier decision not to call a grand jury," Owens told a meeting of Rocky Mountain News editors and editorial writers.
The governor's comments came the day after four victims' families called for a federal probe into the mass shootings and local law enforcement's response.
Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas has not ruled out convening a grand jury, his spokeswoman, Pam Russell, said. "We are still open.'
New questions have come to light over the shooting of 15-year-old Daniel Rohrbough and whether he might have been gunned down accidentally by a Denver police officer rather than Columbine killers Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold.
Rohrbough's family claimed in federal court filings last month that Denver Police Sgt. Dan O'Shea shot their son during the emergency response to the April 20, 1999, massacre of 12 students and teacher Dave Sanders.
Although investigators insist witnesses saw the two killers shoot the boy early in the attack, the Rohrbough family released a tape recording Wednesday they said was Arapahoe County Sheriff's Deputy Jim Taylor saying their son was shot while fleeing the school.
"If he (Taylor) is lying, it's going to forever cloud the results of basically a pretty in-depth study," Owens said.
"I think subpoena powers might be helpful," Owens added. "I think Dave Thomas is probably reconsidering his decision of last March, which came before a number of these (new) allegations had been made."
Barry Arrington, the attorney representing five victim families including the Rohrboughs, said a Jefferson County grand jury investigation "would be wonderful.
"Dave Thomas has had two and a half years to appoint a grand jury, and hasn't. I would encourage a grand jury wherever we can get someone with subpoena power and the ability to place people under oath," Arrington said.
As recently as Dec. 20, Thomas promised Columbine victims' survivors that he would take another look at threats Eric Harris made before the massacre. But he has twice turned down requests from families to launch a grand jury probe. <:P> It may be several days before Arapahoe County Sheriff Pat Sullivan hears the Rohrbough family's secretly recorded tape appearing to contradict Taylor's written statement about his actions at Columbine, which Sullivan released on Monday.
In that statement, Taylor claimed, "It is not true that I saw Daniel Rohrbough get shot or any other person . . . "
Sullivan's Monday press release went on to claim Taylor "was never in a position to witness or hear a weapon being fired" in the vicinity where Rohrbough's body was discovered, and that Taylor "never heard any gun shots on April 20th and never saw any deceased victims on April 20th."
The actions of Taylor that day are pivotal because they could help determine when Daniel Rohrbough was killed, and could potentially undermine the official version of events.
But Arapahoe County officials now say Taylor's comments to the Rohrbough family reflect only what he had seen on television or in newspapers.
Nevertheless, Sullivan is anxious to hear the Rohrbough family's tape that purports to catch Taylor in a flat contradiction of his official statement.
"It's obviously pretty informative, there's no doubt about that," Sullivan said, referring to those portions of the tape that have appeared in the media.
"But I want to know the whole context of what was going on. We need to hear the whole thing."
Rohrbough is setting conditions the sheriff must meet before reviewing the entire 2 1/2-hour tape.
"My position is going to be that there's some information in his office that he has never released," Rohrbough said. "There's a couple dozen police reports from his officers that have never been released" which substantiate Taylor being in position to see Daniel Rohrbough being shot.
"I'd like a confirmation of that information from Sheriff Sullivan, before the entire tape is released to him," Rohrbough said.
Owens does not have the authority to call a statewide grand jury. Attorney General Ken Salazar does, but he said a state grand jury typically is called where there are allegations of local corruption, which he said was not true in the present case.
The governor could name a special prosecutor but said he did not think that was appropriate.
Owens noted that a grand jury would have subpoena powers to compel testimony that his special Columbine commission, headed by former Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice William Erickson, did not.
The commission released a 200-page report last May that was highly critical of the way the incident was handled, claiming the two killers were given "free rein" of the school for 46 minutes and no effort was made to "engage, contain or capture" the killers.
Its report was criticized by Sheriff Stone, who blasted it as "inaccurate and irresponsible."
Stone refused to testify before the commission during its 10 months of hearings.
Staff writers Karen Abbott and Kevin Vaughan contributed to this report. Contact John Sanko at (303) 892-5404 or at sankoj@RockyMountainNews.com.
Columbine lawyers want federal probe
January 4, 2002
By Karen Abbott, News Staff Writer
Colorado U.S. Attorney John Suthers said Thursday that no one has asked him to start a federal grand jury investigation of charges that Jefferson County sheriff's officials have lied about the Columbine shootings. But several lawyers for Columbine families said a federal probe is the only way to find the truth and they're going to ask Suthers to start one.
"I am going to file a formal request with John Suthers, to initiate a federal grand jury investigation," Barry Arrington, who represents the family of slain Columbine student Daniel Rohrbough, said Thursday.
The Rohrbough family has alleged that a Denver police officer shot their son to death in the chaos outside Columbine High School. They have accused Jefferson County sheriff's officials of covering up what really happened.
Suthers also said, in a statement issued through a spokesman, "Before devoting resources we need to have a reasonable belief that a federal crime has been committed."
Arrington said he has grounds. "The basis for that is the deprivation of constitutional rights. . .and the cover-up of that," he said.
Arrington also represents several other Columbine families who have said they are frustrated in their quest to know what really happened at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, and in the activities of killers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris during the 13 months before the shootings.
Denver U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock dismissed several families' lawsuits against law enforcement and school officials in November, ruling that the families had not provided evidence that the officials acted egregiously enough to overcome their legal immunity from lawsuits.
But the families say newly public allegations -- about how Daniel Rohrbough was shot and how Harris wrote detailed plans in a diary months before the shootings, among other things -- do provide the required evidence.
They have asked Babcock to reconsider.
Arrington said a grand jury's subpoena power, and its ability to put witnesses under oath, is the only way the families will obtain the truth.
Two other lawyers for Columbine families agreed.
"They (sheriff's officials) have been hiding evidence not just on the Rohrbough shooting, but on the 13 months that these two kids, Klebold and Harris, were making threats, building bombs, exploding bombs," said Walter Gerash.
Attorney Stephen Wahlberg said, "I strongly feel that the Rohrbough family, and other families -- we, as people -- need to know what happened here."
Autopsy of Klebold stays sealed
January 4, 2002
News had appealed judge's earlier ruling
By News Staff
A judge has denied a petition by the Rocky Mountain News to make public the entire autopsy report for Columbine High killer Dylan Klebold.
The four-page ruling by District Judge R. Brooke Jackson found that publication of details of Klebold's autopsy would offend a significant portion of the population in the Denver area.
The News had originally sought the autopsy reports for Klebold and his partner, Eric Harris, after a judge in 1999 sealed all of the autopsy reports in the Columbine tragedy.
After the News appealed, Harris' report was released. However, Klebold's family objected to the release of his autopsy report, and the issue has been in court since.
The News has sought the autopsy report as a way to answer lingering questions about whether Klebold killed himself. Although that was the official ruling, some evidence released in the past year appears to contradict that finding.
In his ruling, Jackson found that Klebold's parents, Tom and Sue Klebold, were "part of the group" of surviving family members.
"Whether or not one considers them blameworthy for the actions of their son -- a question on which I express no opinion -- they are parents who have lost a child," Jackson wrote. "They are parents whose lives were shattered on April 20, 1999. And, they are parents who state through counsel that they will be terribly hurt if the graphic details of their son's autopsy are published in the News or on the Internet or elsewhere."
John Temple, publisher and editor of the News, said he was disappointed by the ruling.
"It's obvious from recent events how many questions remain unanswered in the Columbine case," he said. "We regret that the judge does not believe in the healing power of our sunshine laws."
God Bless these families for perservering and staying the course in their courage quest for the truth and justice.
Someone tell me please:
How in the hell does worrying above offending people override the need to get justice for these people murdered in these case?
(And the government is far more to blame for what happened that day than the parents anyway.)
But that is not the point ---this is not about getting some money!
Who the hell is worried about money when your child is murdered ???
It's about getting to the truth and getting justice.
As long as I live, I will not forget the images of the cops standing outside the building in groups, hiding behind vehicles, not one of them rushing inside to aid the children - A GRAPHIC PICTURE OF COWARDICE.
Yes, a grand jury to investigate the lack of action by law enforcement would be in order.
Huh? It was those punks Klebold and Harris who decided to go on a murder spree.
Like I stated before, the ultimate blame belongs to them.
Breaking: Columbine Victim Killed by Sheriff Dept. Bullet-Says Lawsuit! Did Government Have a Hand ?
This story this story is from April 2000
...Justice can be so slow when corruption and coverup is in play...
2002 bump and thanks
And of course the police coverup of their own incompetence, to include intimidation of witnesses and purjury, would still be felony criminal conspiracy and official misconduct- and very likely also constitutes racketeering under Colorado state law, another feliony offense.
This is not the official sanitized version. No speculation allowed. It was the guns, pure and simple. The guns, the guns, the guns.
For all I know some of the kids may have been killed by one or more members of the team and they decided to kill off a witness or two or whatever who saw it. I don't know what happened here but there seems to be alot of coverup and lying by the law enforcement envolved. And there also seems to have been a lot of cowardice by law enforcement that went on that day. Also it is very apparent that the local law enforcement and the feds had prior knowledge that these shooting/murders were going to occur that takes extreme evil in my opinion to allow.