In Grant County, WA — which may be re-named Forrest County by the time I finish this — an unarmed man walking down the street minding his own business was beaten nearly to death by police officers chasing an imaginary car thief. Because the victim beloved that such conduct violated his civil rights, he was prosecuted for assaulting an officer. After he was convicted in a trial rife with prosecutorial race-baiting (and served his entire sentence), the Washington Supreme Court overturned his conviction because of the egregious racism of the prosecutor.
As bad as this is, it has gotten much worse:
Moses Lake police nearly beat Joseph Zamora to death. Then he was charged with and convicted of assaulting an officer. He served a full prison term. Then Grant County prosecutors asked for the case to be dismissed. Then the state Supreme Court threw out Zamora’s convictions, because the prosecutor used racial bias during the trial.
It’s been more than six years since the beating that left Zamora in a medically induced coma in the ICU for a month, but Grant County prosecutors are reprosecuting him for the same alleged crimes. Even though Zamora already served a full prison sentence. Even though the same prosecutors previously asked to have the case dismissed.
The lingering question: Why? Why recharge a man when even if he is convicted, he wouldn’t serve any more time? Why recharge a man when the prosecutor previously wrote, “it is no longer in the interests of justice for the State to pursue this case?”
Grant County Prosecutor Kevin McCrae has declined to say, citing rules that limit what he can say about an ongoing case.
But in documents McCrae wrote last fall, shortly after he decided to recharge Zamora, he explains his rationale for beginning the prosecution anew.
In the documents, newly obtained through public records requests, McCrae wrote he decided to recharge Zamora, in part, because Zamora had not taken responsibility for his actions.
After the Supreme Court vacated Zamora’s convictions, McCrae wrote, Zamora left him a voicemail “demanding” that he charge the officer who beat him up with attempted murder. Zamora, in court, also asked when he could file a tort claim, a prerequisite for filing a civil lawsuit, against the city and its Police Department, McCrae said.
Zamora, he wrote, had not learned his lesson.
“It is clear to me that Mr. Zamora had not accepted responsibility for his role in this incident,” McCrae wrote. “While there is no more jail time available in this case, any conviction would still count as criminal history on his offender score, would have an effect on the sentence for any future crimes Mr. Zamora may commit, and hopeful impress upon Mr. Zamora the improperness of his behavior.”
He needs to be TAUGHT ANOTHER LESSON (about injuring a police officer by having his fists repeatedly hit you in the head.)
I’m not sure what state and/or federal and/or civil remedies might be available here, but I hope all of them are being looked into hard.