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."
If the cops there, or anywhere, wont deal with this type of killing spree quickly, then my kid should be able to carry a concealed weapon to protect herself.Or better yet,I get some kind of tax credit that allows me to send her to private school,and we opt out of "public"education altogether.
BTW it is beyond my imagination that a cop ran when somebody was shooting kids. I swear if it was me I would have fought until I was out of bullets and blood........
Even worse was watching the cowards in their flack jackets, with m16s at the ready, boldly approaching the school, shielded by a fire truck.
The poor fireman was in plain view behind that huge windshield, he had no flack jacket.
If only I had a nickle for every time I heard Janet Reno, Hillary Clinton and Bill say that.......
But this thread is all about an entirely different problem. This was not political greed or government cover-up. This was albout the tragic deaths of youths that may have been caught up in the line of fire-power.
It is ashame you don't understand my point. Then, again, I always become choaked up with Columbine, CO threads and for my human misgivings, I apoligize.
To sanction disregard for the Constitution in the name of protecting society from law breakers is to make the government itself lawless and to subvert those values upon which our ultimate freedom and liberty depend. -- Judge (U.S.A.) Brennan
There was some kind of conspiracy at Columbine.
1. There was some amount of foreknowledge of these perps and their plans--the perps should have been closely watched. This in a town with a low crime rate, and not the overwhelming caseload that urban cops contend with that tends to let this kind of info go unnoticed.
2. Why did the cops not storm the building? Did no one think of putting on a custodian's uniform to get in and look like they belonged there to get intel? There was credible inside intel due to the large amount of cell phone calls by the students to the outside. One TV reporter was reporting live that they had heard from a student inside that they were hiding in a certain part of the library from the perps, and I yelled at the TV "Don't give away that info-someone on the outside might be feeding info to the perps!" There was massive armed firepower outside--doing nothing!
3. What ever happened to the tanks and tanks of propane gas found in the building and how did they get there? Two kids did that by their lonesome?
4. It was too neat that the two perps "offed" each other simultaneously in a Hollywood movie ending. In real life, one person always chickens out or misses or gets wounded. That never sounded right to begin with. It sounded like someone else took them out. Dead men tell no tales.
5. A man bled to death for almost three hours due to inaction and cowardice on the SWAT teams outside. That was inexcusable.The timeline is clear that the are he was in was secure enough to get him and his class out, but that didn't happen.
6. Clinton and Reno jumped on this tragedy likes flies on crap to extract anti gun laws--it was too close in MO to the Oklahoma City bombing--the tale of the tragedy was spun very quickly so that no one could react.
7. The Sheriff has not said a word to the investigating commission. That stinks more than anything. 13 innocents dead and he clams up. Yeah, right!
Columbine's full story has not been told.
How do you know this?
Prosecutor rejects calls for grand jury over allegations police shot Columbine student By Steven K. Paulson, Associated Press, 1/3/2002 16:50
LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) Federal and county prosecutors Thursday refused to convene a grand jury to look into allegations that a police officer accidentally killed a student during the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.
Gov. Bill Owens said he would not ask for an investigation, and U.S. Attorney John Suthers said no federal crimes have been alleged.
''You have to believe there was criminal conduct to convene a grand jury. We have no reason to believe there was anything criminal that took place during the investigation,'' said Pam Russell, spokeswoman for Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas. The parents of some of the slain
This needs to be looked at. A new policy may come out of this like....Dont shoot kids running out of a building, when you dont know what the hell is going on.
Pretty British of you, in fact.
Since the ultimate blame belongs to Klebold and Harris, the Leos's are not responsable and should not be held accountable for a brave teacher bleeding to death?
Remembering also the teacher who bled to death more than 2 hours after the initial attack ... (Sniff).
Save your breath; Dane posts the exact same comment to every thread concerning Columbine. In his world, evidently, the police are never to be held responsible for mistakes. I would agree that there are certainly cases where the cops deserve the benefit of the doubt, and more. Columbine, however, is layer upon layer of law enforcement ineptitude. Sorta makes you wonder what motivates *anyone* to run interference for that particular SWAT team.