ACLU: State Attorney Should Withdraw Request for Coroner's Inquest
Decide if Criminal Charges Will Be Sought Against Police Officer Involved in Death of Man
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PENSACOLA, Fla. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida sent a letter to State Attorney William Eddins late yesterday urging him to withdraw his request for a coroner’s inquest into the death of Victor Steen, who was struck and killed by a Pensacola Police officer’s car on October 3, 2009.
“Using an inquest to avoid making a decision about whether to prosecute this case is a waste of time, a waste of money, and is disrespectful to Mr. Steen, who lost his life,” said Benjamin James Stevenson, ACLU of Florida attorney based in Pensacola. “This is an arcane practice that is rarely used elsewhere in the state. This move is political cover – it’s time for the State Attorney to make a decision and not drag this out.”
The practice of using a coroner’s inquest is not a substitute for the State Attorney’s decision on whether to move forward with a criminal prosecution. “This inquest is smoke and mirrors with the intent to fool the public into thinking that an independent and binding review of the facts will occur, when in fact, it will not. With FDLE having investigated this matter for three months, it is doubtful that the State Attorney will learn anything new.”
The ACLU proposed that the State Attorney turn the prosecution over to an attorney appointed by the Governor.
Download a PDF of the letter here: www.aclufl.org/pdfs/Eddins_Inquest.pdf
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The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.