Yes, as the Salem Reporter and Statesman Journal have reported, it's good news that a Marion County grand jury has indicted the DEA (federal Drug Enforcement Agency) agent who killed a Salem woman after running through a stop sign.
Here's an excerpt from the Salem Reporter story by Ardeshir Tabrizian.
An agent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has been charged with criminally negligent homicide for his role in a collision in March that killed a Salem cyclist, according to court documents.
A Marion County grand jury on Wednesday indicted Samuel T. Landis, 38, a special agent of the DEA, on a single count. The charge comes over five months after the collision that killed Marganne Allen, a cyclist and state official.
The charge alleges that the DEA agent killed Allen with “criminal negligence,” according to the indictment. Criminally negligent homicide is a class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson on Wednesday requested that a warrant be issued for the agent’s arrest and that he be held in jail on $20,000 bail. The Marion County Jail’s roster did not list him as being in custody Wednesday morning.
The Statesman Journal story by Whitney Woodworth says this.
The move comes after months of silence from city and county officials regarding Allen's death.
Salem Police passed the investigation on to Keizer Police, citing a potential conflict of interest. Keizer Police said it referred the investigation to the Marion County District Attorney's Office almost four months ago. Prosecutors repeatedly said the decision on charges was still under review.
What's disturbing is how long it took the authorities to charge Allen. After all, KPTV in Portland has reported that it was known almost immediately that Allen had driven through a stop sign after traveling at a high rate of speed in the residential neighborhood.
(That's a screenshot of the KPTV video. You can view the video on the KPTV web site.)
Here's an excerpt from the KPTV story about the indictment of Allen.
Michael Baird, a retired Oregon state trooper who specialized in accident reconstruction, says he is puzzled why the investigation took so long.
“Marganne’s husband told me the night that Salem police came out and notified him that Marganne had been hit by a car, or ran into a car, and died subsequently at Salem hospital, they told him that they had clear evidence that the driver of the vehicle had run a stop sign,” Baird said. “They told him that right from the get-go, and I thought to myself, ‘Why wasn’t he cited if they had evidence of that?’”
For weeks now, FOX 12 been asking Salem police, Keizer police and the Marion County District Attorney’s Office what has been holding up the case. Only Keizer police gave a real response, and said they turned the initial investigation over to prosecutors first in May, and then did two more follow-up investigations since then.
FOX 12 learned a grand jury was looking into the case starting last week, and on Wednesday, they indicted Landis on criminally negligent homicide charges, a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Michael Baird says Marganne Allen’s family has been taking life day by day, and that justice will hopefully give them answers to some of the questions they’ve been asking for months.
It sure sounds like the authorities mentioned in the story were slow-walking an indictment (at best) or trying to find a reason to not charge a fellow law enforcement officer (at worst). Either way, this episode doesn't put our local police and District Attorney in a very good light.