Ready, fire, … aim
For whose good, exactly, was Sheriff Joe Hoy’s remarkable decision to fast-track the arrest of Kobe Bryant before District Attorney Mark Hulbert could review the case enough to decide whether to actually bring charges against the one of the most popular basketball stars in the world?
Last week, not more than a couple of hours after Hulbert’s office arranged with Bryant’s attorneys to hold off prosecutorial action until at least Monday, the sheriff made his own arrangements to have the Los Angeles Lakers guard secretly arrested on the Fourth of July and then keep it all quiet until Sunday evening.
A judge who should have known better enabled this astounding piece of foolishness. Why foolish? Well, the district attorney remains the person who will make the decision of whether there’s a case to prosecute, and what charges to bring. The judge should have steered the sheriff – who was what, in a huff because he felt out of the loop for an hour? – to the DA. Duh.
Instead, thanks to the great sensitivity and caution the local law enforcement leaders have brought to their investigation so far, a case without formal charges is the talk of an entire nation. There it is on the “O’Reilly Factor.” Every network and cable news program. The sports talk shows clamored this week for interviews with local journalists trying to cover the story. How exactly does the media circus show any consideration whatsoever for the reported victim or her family? How does it show any consideration whatsoever for Kobe Bryant or his family?
How does it do anything other than paint the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office as Keystone cops who bumbled right out of the gate for lack of simple communication with each other. The DA clearly was surprised when contacted Sunday evening that the sheriff would do something so harebrained.
They’ve since made a nice show of acting as a team since Monday. But damage already has been done. Hoy said he wanted to do what was right for everyone by fast-tracking the arrest ahead of the determination of whether charges are merited. We’d suggest the opposite has occurred.
We would hope this is not an example of the great care taken with every sexual assault case in Eagle County. Such cases are difficult, with high stakes, and require that investigators and law enforcement leaders follow procedures precisely. But it’s not quite rocket science to move from investigation to presentation of evidence to the prosecutors to make their own determination of the merits of the case before moving to the next steps of arrest and prosecution.
So far, this has been a ready, fire, aim debacle, which is good for no one.