Grand Jury Should Review the Barker Shooting
Our public officials have imprudently failed to rely on the law to determine the criminality of the police officer who killed James Barker. Instead they have given us incomplete and amended explanations, removed accountability and put a pox on our community with a national scandal. For the reasons listed below, District Attorney Sim Gill should seek a grand jury in the Barker matter and publish the results.
First, the most recently released video, on which our leaders rely to end discussion of Barker's death, raises more questions than answers: Why would the police officer handcuff an obviously dead man? What are the three muffled sounds in the second video? Haven't we seen cops carry more than one gun?
Second, probable cause exists to charge the officer with a homicide: Under Utah law, probable cause requires a scintilla of evidence. At the very least, the second video constitutes a scintilla of evidence. Gill has prosecuted many defendants on less evidence than exists in Barker.
Third, constitutional safeguards exist to determine if the state should prosecute the officer. Those safeguards are grand jury proceedings. Gill, to our knowledge, has not requested a grand jury to determine the criminality of the police officer.
Respected journals and lawyers around the country question whether or not Gill has given into political pressure. Our public officials must put our public house in order, restore accountability and clean our community of this stain. Therefore, Gill should seek a grand jury in the Barker matter and publish the results.
Jonathan W. Fink, JD
Salt Lake City
Don't Judge Joseph Smith by Today's Standards
In response to Ted Ottinger's "Silly Questions" [Letters, Jan. 14, City Weekly], my primary question is: What's your point, Ted?
If you think Joseph Smith (were he on Earth today and in a position to make a public comment) would do anything differently than the present leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then you don't truly understand the church and who is running it.
Even if you don't believe it is the Lord's church, it sounds like you're trying to apply present-day mores to the actions of a person who lived 175 years ago, in a completely different era. You're trying to make Joseph Smith look like he wasn't a saint, a faithful husband or a law-abiding citizen. What do you think you know about him that no one else does? Are you attempting to judge him by today's conditions, under which the LDS Church and its members have rights and equal protection under the law, like everyone else?
If so, you're ignoring the reality of Joseph Smith's day, in which he and the church membership were threatened and even murdered on a daily basis, and in which they were not only not afforded protection under the law but were actively persecuted by the very lawmen whose job it would've been to keep them safe.
Even in Nauvoo, they were very much on the frontier and were under siege from all sides. Not only did they have to protect themselves from wildlife and from attacks by American Indians, but they had to defend themselves from anti-Mormon mobs.
Any effort to judge LDS settlers and leaders outside the context of the circumstances they suffered is not only unrealistic and unfair, but it reveals lazy thinking or outright ignorance of the accuser. Also, in view of what Joseph Smith accomplished in his life before he was murdered, your comments betray exceeding arrogance. What have you done that would qualify you to judge him?