Lehigh Valley

Grand jury issues proposals for officer-involved shootings

A grand jury issued new recommendations on how Pennsylvania State Police should handle shootings involving their own.

The report stems from a dispute between the Northampton County District Attorney and state police over which agency should have investigated the shooting of a suicidal man last year.

The report backed up the state police investigation that the fatal shooting of Anthony Ardo was justified. But overall, it said state police investigations regarding its own officers are full of contradictions, conflicts and confusion.

"There is a distrust of law enforcement when it comes to officer involved shootings," said Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli.

Morganelli says the grand jury report released Tuesday should act as a beacon for the state police to modify its investigation policies in regards to trooper-involved shootings.

The report comes after state police refused to let the district attorney's office take the lead in a deadly shooting in Lower Mount Bethel Township last year.

Troopers said they were forced to shoot Anthony Ardo, 47, when he threatened to light the fuse of a firework mortar around his neck.

The grand jury agreed the deadly force was necessary, but the report noted 'arrogance' among state police and mentioned serious concerns with how they conduct investigations, specifically pointing out state police cruiser cameras weren't working during that May shooting.

"It's not enough to say just trust us, just trust us, we're going to do a good job. It's not enough to say that," said Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli.

The report makes several recommendations involving internal investigations of officer-involved shootings.

These include involving an independent agency as the lead investigators, clarifying written policies and practices, and using body cameras for all state troopers.

The grand jury also recommends a copy of its report be given to the Governor, State Legislature and Attorney General.

In response the state police said it remains confident all necessary protocols are in place to conduct all investigations in a fair, impartial and transparent manner. State police said it will review the grand jury report in the coming days and respond as appropriate. 

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