A grand jury’s decision not to recommend charges against a state trooper following a police-brutality allegation was hailed as “total vindication” Tuesday by the trooper’s attorney.
State Trooper Kelly Cruz, a veteran narcotics investigator, should soon return to regular duty, said attorney Christian J. Hoey.
But Joseph P. Green Jr., who represents Zachary W. Bare, emphatically disagreed with the grand jury, calling its decision a “whitewash” aimed at protecting “a state trooper from a verified, corroborated report of felonious assault.”
Bare, 22, of Exton, accused Cruz of stomping on his head Aug. 19, 2009, while he was lying facedown in handcuffs.
In criticizing the decision, Green cited the state Attorney General’s “prolonged refusal to act, and then its eleventh-hour claim of an unreviewable dismissal of the complaint.”
In Chester County Court, he argued before President Judge James P. MacElree 2d that his client was entitled to a hearing and to evidence that would explain why the complaint was not pursued. He said the state should not be able to shroud its decision in secrecy by employing a grand jury.
Deputy Attorney General James P. Barker responded that Green was not entitled to a hearing or to the state’s investigative file.
Attorneys presented case law to bolster their arguments, and the judge said that, after reviewing their submissions, he would issue a ruling on whether another hearing was warranted.
Cruz has been on desk duty since Bare filed a private criminal complaint Nov. 23, 2009, with the District Attorney’s Office, accusing Cruz of breaking his nose and pushing four teeth into his gums with his foot. Medical reports showed Bare had two facial fractures.
According to court records, the alleged assault, which occurred during a drug raid, was witnessed by another police officer. Bare was apprehended because he matched the description of a man who had fled a suspected methamphetamine lab in Exton that was the target of a drug investigation. Bare was never charged in connection with the raid.
Citing a social relationship with Cruz, Chester County District Attorney Joseph W. Carroll turned the investigation over to the state Attorney General’s Office.
Hoey said it was clear the grand jury accepted Cruz’s version of events and found inconsistencies in the testimony of Bare and officers from West Whiteland Township. Hoey called the grand jury move “total vindication.”
Referring to a civil case that has been on hold pending the outcome of the Attorney General’s investigation, Green said he expected a jury would have a different view.
“The good news is that someday, this will get presented in a courtroom,” he said. “Then we’ll see what is decided.”