Skip to comments.DA requests Columbine inquest (Govt Still Tries To Coverup,Avoid Grand Jury, Ballistics Report Also)
Posted on 01/15/2002 1:50:07 PM PST by t-shirt
DA requests Columbine inquest
January 15, 2002
But Rohrbough's dad swiftly asks for delay so victims' families can pursue other options
By Kevin Vaughan and Jeff Kass, News Staff Writers
Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas on Monday formally requested a coroner's inquest to investigate the death of Columbine High School student Daniel Rohrbough. Just as quickly, however, the boy's father said he will ask Coroner Carl Blesch to delay any decision on the inquest until he and other families can finish pursuing other options, including a federal grand jury and a legislative investigation.
"We see this only as a last resort," Brian Rohrbough said.
Blesch said he expected to decide by Thursday whether to follow through on Thomas' request. Blesch said he welcomes any input from the Rohrbough family as he considers the proposal.
Daniel's parents have alleged that a Denver police officer, Sgt. Dan O'Shea, mistakenly shot and killed the 15-year-old in the chaos at the school after Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire on their classmates on April 20, 1999.
O'Shea has steadfastly denied the shooting, and, speaking from the front door of his home Monday night, told a reporter, "When the facts of this case come out, you're going to realize I did it right."
An inquest would be carried out by six jurors who would have subpoena power and would be able to take testimony under oath.
Daniel's mother, Sue Petrone, said she was interested in anything that pursues the truth. But she said she is not ready to give up on options other than the inquest.
Jefferson County sheriff's spokeswoman Jacki Tallman said her office had not been formally notified of the request.
However, she said, "We support any decision by the district attorney's office and the coroner regarding the coroner's inquest into Danny Rohrbough's death."
Daniel's parents alleged in a lawsuit filed in April 2000 that a law officer's bullet killed the boy. On Nov. 27, a federal judge dismissed a number of Columbine lawsuits, including the one filed by Daniel's family.
On Dec. 26, the Rohrbough family and the parents of four other Columbine victims filed papers in federal court to revive their lawsuits, naming O'Shea as Daniel's killer. They also cited 29 instances in which they claimed that Jefferson County authorities lied to them.
Over the past few weeks, the controversy has simmered.
A deputy who claimed he saw Daniel die -- a claim that was used to support the allegations against O'Shea -- denied making the statements. He was then fired after the families played a tape recording of a conversation with the officer.
Arapahoe County Sheriff Pat Sullivan concluded that the deputy lied to Daniel's family. However, the boy's parents continue to believe that he told them the truth.
They have pushed for a new investigation into the boy's death and a number of inconsistencies in the official version of events presented in the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office's report on Columbine.
Among the options they've pursued is a grand jury, which would have the power to subpoena witnesses and documents, to take testimony under oath and to issue an indictment if it found that a crime had been committed.
However, there is also a drawback: Grand juries are secret proceedings; if no indictment is issued, it's likely that nothing would ever be learned about the investigation.
A coroner's inquest, however, would be an open proceeding used to determine the cause and manner of the boy's death.
The cause is not in dispute: Daniel suffered three gunshot wounds from a 9 mm weapon.
However, two of the bullets -- including the one that inflicted the fatal wound -- passed through his body and were never positively identified.
And the parents have questioned the conclusion that Klebold, after he or Harris first wounded Daniel in the leg, walked down a flight of 22 concrete steps and killed the boy with two shots at close range. Those wounds entered the left side of his chest.
The family believes that Daniel, who fell facedown on the ground, was shot by an officer while running away from Klebold and Harris.
Brian Rohrbough said the openness of an inquest is desirable in some respects but also has a key drawback. If a coverup is afoot, he said, it would be easier for those testifying to know what others have said before them.
"If it is the last option, it is still an option," he said. "However, what it is right now is an attempt to distract us from looking into the corruption that has taken place in law enforcement before, during and after Columbine."
He and other families have pointed to the handling of a report made more than a year before Columbine that Harris and Klebold were building pipe bombs and talking about mass murder. Even though sheriff's investigators prepared a search warrant, they never served it.
Pam Russell, Thomas' spokeswoman, would not release a copy of the prosecutor's request to Blesch. However, she described it as a one-page letter.
It would be up to Blesch to determine whether Thomas would play any role in an inquest, such as the legal counsel to the coroner, Russell said.
Russell said Thomas did not tell Blesch that the request was coming Monday but has discussed it with him for almost two weeks.
"Whether or not he chooses to convene an inquest is up to him," Russell said.
"It's really just the logical next step in a situation where the manner and cause of death are being questioned," she said.
She added, "It's just everything surrounding this case; people are being accused and tried in the media."
Russell said there was no one thing that sparked Thomas to ask for the inquest. But one appeal was the public nature of proceedings.
"Questions will be asked in the public arena," she said.
Russell noted that certain details -- such as whether an inquest would be in a courtroom -- have not been answered.
Russell said one reason Thomas did not convene a grand jury is because of the need for evidence of criminal conduct.
"We don't believe we have evidence of criminal conduct at this time," she said.
Russell noted that the scope of any coroner's inquest is very limited. It looks into the cause and manner of death.
The inquest attempts to determine whether the manner of death was homicide, suicide, natural causes or accidental. It can also conclude the manner is undetermined.
"It's not an end-all," she said. "It's a piece" of the investigation.
Controversy survives Columbine Parents of student victim want to know who shot the bullet The tragedy at Columbine High School still echoes for the family of one victim--they suspect he might have been killed by friendly fire. NBC's Jim Avila reports.
By Jim Avila
DENVER, Jan. 9 A tragedy that happened almost three years ago still echoes for the family of one of its victims. Fifteen-year-old Danny Rohrbaugh was shot and killed during the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Co. Now, the circumstances of his death have been called into painful question, based on what a sheriffs deputy claimed was an eyewitness account.
ITS an awful memory. On April 20, 1999, two students murdered 13 people and wounded 20 more most of them other students then killed themselves. Since that terrible day 33 months ago, the parents of 15-year-old Daniel Rohrbaugh have asked one question. Who killed their son? I just want to know the truth about how he died, says Sue Petrone, Daniels mother. But from the beginning, authorities say, Sheriffs Deputy Jim Taylor has been lying to them, feeding suspicion that Daniel was killed by friendly fire and not as law enforcement officials concluded: directly at the hands of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. On Wednesday, Deputy Taylor was fired, charged with lying and misleading Daniels parents about their sons death. His statements may have planted the seeds that have led to much of the distress by the crime victims family, says Arapahoe County Sheriff Pat Sullivan, Jr. Deputy Jim Taylor refused NBCs request for an interview and has never publicly claimed to have seen anything. At first he even denied that he shared any direct knowledge about Daniel with his parents. But the Rohrbaughs had proof. They had secretly tape recorded his claims. From the tape: They were just running in mass chaos and I seen a boy drop... You think it was Dan though or you dont know? It was Dan. On the tapes, Taylor claimed that he was in the middle of the action, in position to see Daniel die, on the steps just outside the cafeteria. Putting himself in the southwest parking lot, within 100 yards of Daniels body, he said he saw the teenager fall when hit by a bullet that seemed to come from the parking lot where police were shooting, not the building where Klebold and Harris were. Advertisement
But Taylor now admits (Admits or claims under extreme pressure from the government and Sheriff???--my comments)that he was nowhere near any of the shooting, that he was assigned to evacuating students on the east side of the building completely blocked from the sights and sounds of the massacre.
He was never in a position to see Danny fall or anybody else fall from gunfire, says Sullivan.
But the Rohrbaughs still believe the first story. Adding to their suspicions is the lack of solid ballistic evidence tying Klebold and Harris to Daniels murder. Tests on the lone bullet found in Daniels body could not link it to a specific gun.
Daniels parents have even filed suit, naming Denver SWAT team member Daniel OShea as the man who shot their son. Their evidence is an affidavit from a school principal saying she overheard OShea upset about possibly shooting an innocent student.
But OShea has been cleared by investigators, and five students near Daniel as he died told the FBI in sworn statements they personally saw Klebold and Harris shoot him. That leaves Daniels parents where they began 33 months ago, with the credibility of their biggest ally in doubt and fired while they still search for truth.
I was watching the news and this spokesperson for Jefferson county said, Its irrelevant who shot Danny Rohrbaugh. says Sue Petrone. Its irrelevant. Well, its not irrelevant to me.
Prosecutors Seek Columbine Inquest
Was Slain Student Shot By A Police Officer?
GOLDEN, Colo., Jan. 15, 2002
(AP) Prosecutors have requested a coroner's inquest into the death of a Columbine High School student whose parents claim was accidentally killed by an officer during the 1999 massacre.
Daniel Rohrbough's parents say he was shot by a Denver SWAT team member who rushed to the school after teen gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold began their April 20, 1999, assault. The sheriff's report on the shooting says Rohrbough was shot by Klebold.
Coroner Carl Blesch said he hoped to decide on the inquest request by Thursday.
Barry Arrington, the parents' lawyer, said Monday he would ask the coroner to delay an inquest until other investigative methods have been exhausted.
He said he favors the creation of a legislative commission that could issue subpoenas and take testimony in private, allowing witnesses to be more candid.
Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas had earlier declined to call a grand jury. He said the coroner would have subpoena power, though not as extensive as a grand jury.
Daniel's father, Brian Rohrbough, said the call for an inquest "is simply one more way to try to derail our efforts at finding the truth."
Relatives of Columbine victims also have asked for a federal grand jury to investigate the slayings of 12 students and one teacher.
Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Denver, said the decision to request an inquest would not affect whether a grand jury would be convened.
Rohrbough claimed Denver police Sgt. Dan O'Shea told a school administrator he feared he may have shot a student, according to court papers.
But O'Shea's lawyer, David Bruno, said his client didn't shoot anyone at Columbine and that the conversation with the administrator was misheard.
"What he said was, when there's a crowded building and shots are fired, his greatest fear is that he shot somebody," Bruno said.
DA Requests Coroner's Inquest In Columbine Death Coroner To Announce Decision On Inquest Thursday Wayne Harrison, Senior News Editor Posted: 3:38 p.m. MST January 14, 2002 Updated: 6:22 p.m. MST January 14, 2002 GOLDEN, Colo. -- The Jefferson County district attorney has requested a coroner's inquest into the death of Columbine student Daniel Rohrbough. Julie Hayden reports on the DA's request for an inquest. Tony Kovaleski explains how a Coroner's Inquest works. See What Ballistics Report Shows On this here:
Thew Denver Channel
Thomas issued a request for the investigation Monday afternoon. He said the inquest -- which can be similar to a trial -- would be held in public and would look into claims Rohrbough was shot by police at Columbine High School.
A Monday afternoon release from his office stated:
"In light of the considerable public controversy concerning the means and manner of his death, the district attorney believes that a coroner's inquest might serve to answer some of the questions being raised. While an inquest is very limited in scope, it would be an open proceeding and, therefore, Thomas believes, of great value to the interested parties."
An attorney for Rohrbough and five other families had asked Thomas for a grand jury investigation. Thomas said an inquest might be a better way to answer questions for the family and the public. A grand jury is held in secret.
Jefferson County Coroner Carl Blesch has said he would consider an inquest if family members or authorities request it. He said he would announce his decision about the district attorney's request at a Thursday afternoon news conference.
The governor's Columbine Commission, which investigated the Columbine shootings, didn't have subpoena powers and the coroner's inquest would. Jefferson County sheriff John Stone refused to appear before the Columbine Commission, but could be compelled to appear at the coroner's inquest.
A coroner's inquest would only investigate the manner of death, according to 7NEWS Investigative Reporter Tony Kovaleski. He talked with Blesch about just such a possibility last week, he said.
Investigators said teen gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students, including Rohrbough, and a teacher before killing themselves on April 20, 1999.
After meeting with the Arapahoe County sheirff last Friday, Brian Rohrbough said he was convinced more than ever that is was a law enforcement officer, and not Columbine gunmen, who killed his son (pictured, right).
According to the Rohrboughs, Daniel Rohrbough's autopsy showed that he was killed by a bullet that was fired from the front in an upward trajectory, 7NEWS reported.
The Rohrboughs said that the ballistics map showed that there were no shell casings from Harris or Klebold in the area where the shot was fired.
However, there were three 9 mm shell casings found near Daniel Rohrbough's body that belonged to Denver SWAT Officer Dan O'Shea, Brian Rohrbough said, and that given that evidence, Harris and Klebold were not in a position to kill their son, but O'Shea was.
"If it was a mistake, tell us it was a mistake," Brian Rohrbough said Friday . "If we are mistaken, show us we are mistaken. But let's get to the bottom of what happened that day at Columbine."
Brian Rohrbough said it took two years for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department to hand over the ballistics maps because he said authorities were trying to cover up what they know.
Relatives of Columbine victims also have asked for a federal grand jury to investigate the slayings of 12 students and one teacher.
Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Denver, said the decision to request an inquest would have no impact on whether a grand jury would be convened.
Columbine Parent Releases Ballistics Report
Rohrbough Meets With Arapahoe County Sheriff
Posted: 8:43 a.m. MST January 11, 2002
Updated: 7:40 p.m. MST January 11, 2002
LITTLETON, Colo. -- After meeting with the Arapahoe County Sheriff on Friday, Brian Rohrbough said he was convinced more than ever that is was a law enforcement officer, and not Columbine gunmen, who killed his son Danny Rohrbough.
In fact, he released a new ballistics report that he said proves his case.
According to the Rohrboughs, Danny Rohrbough's autopsy showed that he was killed by a bullet that was fired from the front in an upward trajectory, 7NEWS reported.
"What's in front of Danny Rohrbough? Law enforcment shell casings," Rohrbough's attorney Barry Arrington said.
The Rohrboughs said that the ballistics map showed that there were no shell casings from Harris or Klebold in the area where the shot was fired.
However, there were three 9 mm shell casings found near Danny's body that belonged to Denver SWAT officer Dan O'Shea, Rohrbough said. Rohrbough said that given that evidence, Harris and Klebold were not in a position to kill their son, but O'Shea was.
"If it was a mistake, tell us it was a mistake," Rohrbough said. "If we are mistaken, show us we are mistaken. But let's get to the bottom of what happened that day at Columbine."
But O'Shea said he did not shoot anyone at Columbine. He said Danny Rohrbough was already dead when he arrived at the school.
The shell casings the Rohrboughs are talking about came from shots O'Shea said he fired after he crept down the hill to provide cover for another officer checking Dan's body.
But Rohrboughs don't believe it. Rohrbough and several other Columbine families accuse law enforcement of lying about what really happened at Columbine High School during the April 1999 massacre.
The Rohrboughs said it took two years for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department to hand over the ballistics maps because they said authorities were trying to cover-up what they know.
The lastest controversy involved an Arapahoe County deputy sheriff who gave two conflicting accounts of what he saw that day.
During a taped conversation in March 2000, Deputy Jim Taylor told the Rohrbough family that he saw their son Danny get shot. The Rohrboughs claim that Taylor's statements prove that a Denver SWAT officer fired the fatal bullet that killed their son, and not Harris or Klebold.
The family met with Arapahoe County Sheriff Pat Sullivan on Friday to discuss his decision to fire Taylor.
Rohrbough said Sullivan didn't even ask to hear a tape the family has of Taylor telling them he was standing next to a Denver policeman during the 1999 massacre at Columbine when he heard machine gun fire and saw a student fall. Taylor said he was later able to determine that the student was Daniel.
Sullivan has said radio logs and other evidence show Taylor wasn't even there at the time. Sullivan fired Taylor for giving conflicting reports to investigators and the Rohrbough family.
The Rohrboughs described the one-hour meeting as "standoffish" and said that they are more convinced than ever that law enforcement is trying to cover up, 7NEWS reporter Julie Hayden said.
Jefferson County sheriff's detectives maintain that the 15-year-old was killed by Klebold, who along with Harris, stormed Columbine High School.
The U.S. attorney is considering a federal grand jury to investigate what happened the day of the massacre, but said that it's unlikely because no federal laws were broken.
The County district attorney said a state grand jury is an option. So is a coroner's inquest.
A state lawmaker said Thursday that if the courts don't get involved. He will move to form a legislative committee with subpoena powers to get answers.
"Not necessarily to find wrongdoing not necessarily to find the witch, so to speak, but to clear the air find out what the truth is," said Rep. Don Lee, a Littleton Republican.
Lee also said that if it does go to a legislative committee it would have to happen before the session ends in May.
Columbine Report Under Lock And Key
Meanwhile, school officials are trying to keep private a report on an internal investigation into the Columbine High School shootings.
Jefferson County school officials conducted the in-depth investigation as they prepared to defend themselves from families' lawsuits.
The lawsuits have been dismissed. But the report is locked away.
It is protected by state laws that keep most attorney-client communications confidential.
School district attorney Bill Kowalski said officials want to protect the rights of people named in the lawsuit.
The report includes school records and interviews with Columbine staff members who knew the student gunmen.
Important other Recent Columbine threads below:
(Breaking):Federal Columbine Probe Sought (JudgingBy WACO,OKC,TWA800, Feds 'ill Really Cover it Up!)
Deputy Admits to Columbine Tape [Admits its Him on Tape Saying Saw Student Shot,Yet Denies Its True!
Investigating the 'Lies' (29 Major Lies By Govt' In Columbine MassMurder Coverup)(Denver Newspaper)
This story list facts, evidence and admissions by the government(and agents) to prove the numerous lies and coverup by the government, SWAT Team, Police, Sheriff, and Deputies.
(Breaking:Governor)Owens Calls for Columbine Grand Jury (Students "Gunned By" Swat,+KleboldAutopsy)
Columbine parents reveal tape - Recording proves officer saw son shot, they say
Prosecutor rejects calls for grand jury over allegations police shot Columbine student
Sheriff May Block Columbine Police Shooting Probe
Another doubting-thomas-suicide bump! Keep hammering at this.
Even if the family never gets satisfaction, maybe knowing the danger will inspire another family to get their kids out of the line of fire (homeschool!) Better to teach your kids to shoot bullets than to dodge them.
(Something about your format with those i's wouldn't let this post perhasps???)
The cast of characters and names is getting a bit crowded. Perhaps this will help: Cast of Characters The Sheriff's Office/Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone
Active in the investigation early on during the months of April and May. Often spoke openly about case and was criticized for accusations relating to student Brooks Brown. Openly admits other accomplices were probably involved. Spokesman Steve Davis Numerous press appearances. A middle-aged white male known for his short to medium length white hair. Told CRTF a bomb was not found in the kitchen, contradicting earlier official reports.
Lt. John Kiekbusch, Division Chief
In charge of Columbine investigation.
Capt. Dan Harris
Active in the investigation.
Sgt. Jim Parr
Involved in the investigation early on. Allegedly said the "long rifles" used by Harris and Klebold -- believed to have been used when they killed themselves -- were found in another room adjacent to the library and their bodies. This is yet to be confirmed.
Deputy Neil Gardner
Provided security for Columbine High School. Was involved in a "shoot-out" with an assailant early on in the shooting. Returned to school from lunch only to find it under siege. Said to have provided inconsistent statements on his whereabouts before the shooting.
Lt. Terry Manwaring
Led the SWAT team effort early on in entering the school. One of the few SWAT members to talk publicly. Essentially talked to the press in the role of spokesman for the SWAT team effort that day.
Undersheriff John Dunaway
Involved in the investigation.
District attorney Dave Thomas
Made statements about shooting in April and early May. Deputy District Attorney Mark Pautler
Numerous public statements made about shooting in April and May.
Jefferson County school superintendent Jane Hammond
Criticized for requesting more funds for school district in light of shooting. The FBI Dwayne Fuselier
Heading up FBI investigation into shooting. Son currently attends Columbine High, eldest son graduated two years ago. Eldest son directly related to creation of a 1997 school video depicting trench-coat dressed figures using weapons and ultimately depicting the demise of Columbine High in a display of fiery destruction. Dwayne Fuselier head negotiator of Montana "Freemen" stand-off in 1996. Said to have been involved in Oklahoma City bombing and Waco incident.
Acting special agent in charge of the FBI's Denver office. Defended Fuselier's position in heading up Columbine investigation.
The BATF Larry Bettendorf, spokesman
Made a few statements early on in investigation.
Columbine High School administration Principal Frank DeAngelis
Reportedly saw one of the shooters. Said to be distant, inaccessible, and politically motivated. Claims he was "unaware" of Trench Coat Mafia presence at school before shooting, others disagree.
Art teacher Patricia Nielson Witnessed entire shooting from inside building. The only school faculty member to describe to the press, in detail, what they saw. Science teacher Dave Sanders
Shot early on when running upstairs from cafeteria to warn others of shooters. Survived for at least four hours until passing on. His location was known throughout the day and no rescue effort was made. SWAT teams prevented a paramedic from helping Sanders, and inside the school a Boy Scout and other students were ordered to leave Sanders where he lay despite their protests to the contrary. Biology teacher Bev Williams
Said that she heard shooters in library at 12:15 pm.
Parents/Students Wayne and Kathy Harris
Parents of shooter Eric and eldest son Kevin. Wayne said to have extensive military background. Was stationed at Plattsburg, New York military base in early '90s. Harris family refused to talk with investigators without immunity from prosecution. Suspicions arose from the large amount of bomb making materials found in the Harris home.
Tom and Susan Klebold
Parents of Dylan Klebold. Tom worked in Denver as a geophysicist for Champlin Oil Co. in the '80s. He now oversees Fountain Real Estate Management with his wife. They also have a son named Byron, born in 1978. Both Tom and Susan are reportedly excellent parents and cooperated with officials. The Klebold home is located about one mile from the Lockheed Martin "Waterton" defense plant.
Student Mark Taylor
Was shot outside above cafeteria, near Rachel Scott, and near the double-doors teacher Patti Nielson was shot. Suffered in upwards of five to seven gunshot wounds. In the hospital, Taylor was threatened to "keep quiet" by Jefferson County officials about what he saw that day.
Student Brooks Brown
Friend of Dylan Klebold and reoccurring adversary of Eric Harris. Harris made threats against Brown on his web site. The Brown parents, Randy and Judy, were angered by the threats and contacted the sheriff's office last year. Subsequently, the office made attempts to surveil Harris, though the Browns claim they didn't do enough. Brooks Brown implicated in shooting by Sheriff Stone. Brown openly vocal of distaste of Stone and principal DeAngelis, also believes a cover-up is taking place.
Student Chris Wisher
Made statements at scene of crime indicating presence of more than two shooters. Told investigator John Quinn that he saw a third gunman, and that a friend told him that over a half-dozen trench-coated assailants were also seen in the school. Also, officials said to have pressured a friend of Wisher's who was adamant that she saw three gunmen. Chris Wisher's mother told Quinn that the girl, after being interrogated by the officials, came to the Wisher home sobbing in tears.
Vocal parent of slain student Daniel Mauser. Actively pursuing anti-gun campaign with the S.A.F.E. organization. Protested in front of National Rifle Association meeting a few weeks after the shooting.
Brian Rohrbough & Rich Petrone
Father and step-father of slain Daniel Rohrbough. Very vocal and critical of investigation and the killer's parents.
Michael and Vonda Shoels
Parents of slain Isaiah Shoels who filed $200 million dollar lawsuit. Both parents very vocal. Openly critical of killer's parents, the United Way and school administration. Received threats after shooting. Suffered public scorn due to their "hard-line" positions. Michael Shoels told TV news cameras, "Everyone knows there were other shooters involved..." The Shoels family has moved to Texas.
Other entities involved
Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Handled ballistics evidence and concluded no other shooters were involved.
Handled fund for victims' families. Mishandling of funds alleged.
Governor's Columbine Review Commission
Created by Governor Bill Owens to look into the shooting and provide suggestions on how schools might prevent future shootings. Commission has held a number of meetings where various figures have given testimony. Commission is headed up by local dignitaries, judges and law enforcement officials.
Columbine Task Force (group of local officials and parents)
Local task force headed up by state senator Don Lee to decide where future memorial should be built.
And remember you don't have to reply to any of my threads. Why do you keep replying to my threads if you have no interests in them?
I agree 100%. This is a disgrace. If that was my son, I would have to seek the truth too.
The public deserves the whole truth too. There are just to many questions that need answers.
It stinks, the deputy apparent shooting is just part of it.