"The already difficult task of prosecuting police officers accused of criminal offenses is compounded by Georgia state law that allows special privileges for public officials, including police officers, during grand jury proceedings."
The balance tips toward the police from the start: In most felony cases, an arrest is made and a grand jury indictment follows within a prescribed period of time. But in police fatality cases, prosecutors generally use special grand juries sitting for lengthy periods to investigate and gather evidence before determining if an arrest and indictment are warranted.
Another hurdle is the law itself. Most states give officers wide discretion to use whatever force they reasonably believe is necessary to make an arrest or to protect themselves, a standard that hinges on the officer's perceptions of danger during the encounter, legal scholars and criminologists say.
"The whole process is really reluctant to criminalize police behavior," said Eugene O'Donnell, a former prosecutor who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. "The grand jurors are, the jurors are, the judges are, the appellate courts are."
The mere fact that a District Attorney has presented the case of alleged police use of unreasonable force to a Grand Jury really means that the DA has no desire to prosecute the police officer. Otherwise, the DA would have simply filed a Felony Complaint, had the police officer arrested, and prosecute the officer.
The Brunswick district attorney who is facing a state and federal investigation for her actions in the Ahmaud Arbery case has removed herself from another high-profile criminal case in Glynn County.