March 8, 2010

District Attorney Recuses Office From Police Shooting Case

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Tompkins County District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson recused her office Monday from the investigation into the death of Shawn Greenwood, who was shot and killed by an Ithaca police officer on Feb. 23.

In a statement, Wilkinson said the case presented a conflict of interest and that she would request the County Supreme Court to appoint a special prosecutor.

“The appointment of an outside prosecutor will best serve the requirements of justice and the public safety interests of the community,” Wilkinson said in the statement.

Yesterday afternoon, Judge Robert C. Mulvey selected Chemung County District Attorney Weeden Wetmore, The Ithaca Journal reported. The Journal also reported yesterday that Wilkinson cited her office’s past work with the multiple law enforcement agencies involved in the incident as the source of a potential conflict of interest.

Wilkinson’s office had been investigating the case since the shooting two weeks ago. On Feb. 23, police approached and attempted to physically remove Greenwood –– who had been the target of a narcotics investigation –– from his vehicle, but he resisted arrest and allegedly drove over a curb, hitting and throwing a police officer to the ground, Wilkinson said at a press conference two weeks ago.

Greenwood then allegedly accelerated the vehicle forward towards the officer, at which point, Ithaca Police Sgt. Bryan Bangs fired on Greenwood, who had to be taken to Cayuga Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Wilkinson had said that this was the first time during her 5-year tenure that her office was investigating a police officer’s use of lethal force.

Original Author: Michael Stratford