Lehigh Valley

DA orders grand jury investigation of fatal police shooting

DA orders grand jury investigation of...

EASTON, Pa. - A grand jury will have a say in whether a deadly police-involved shooting in Northampton County was justified.

Pennsylvania State Police troopers said they were forced to shoot a man who was coming at them with an explosive around his neck in Lower Mount Bethel Township last month.

State police are conducting their own investigation, but the District Attorney John Morganelli said that's not enough.

Morganelli said Thursday that he feels the grand jury should investigate the case, as well, for the best interest of the public.

Morganelli said officers are given weapons and a lot of power, so in the case of an officer-involved shooting, the public needs to know the right decisions are being made.

It's been nearly five weeks since troopers fatally Anthony Ardo after responding to a call at Ardo's home in the 1300 block of Good Street on May 20.

State police investigators said Ardo was coming at them and threatening to light a fuse on a firework mortar around his neck.

"When we have the agency that is at issue doing the investigation, gathering the evidence, they're in possession of all the evidence at the crime scene, etcetera," said Morganelli. "I think the grand jury is the best way to go."

Morganelli said his decision is not because of any ill-will with Bethlehem-based Troop M, which responded to the scene.

"When something like this happens, we have to have transparency," added Morganelli. "That is why we adopted the DA Association's best practices policy."

According to that policy, when there is an officer-involved shooting, the prosecutor in that jurisdiction investigates. State police don't follow that because they have their own protocol.

Morganelli said a grand jury investigation will also result in more confidence from the public.

"I hope whatever the decision is on the use of force is one that the public and everyone involved will accept as a fair, right decision that was done in a transparent atmosphere," said Morganelli.

Morganelli said he believes he will get cooperation from state police. He wants the grand jury to start hearing testimony next week.

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