It took two Bartow County grand juries before Euharlee's Police Cpl. Beth Gatny was cleared of wrongdoing for last year's Valentine's Day shooting death of 17-year-old Christopher Roupe.
Gatny mistakenly shot the teen while serving a probation arrest warrant on his father. Evidence showed Gatny failed to identify herself as a police officer when she came to the door with her gun drawn. When the teen opened the door, she shot him in the chest, thinking he had a gun. He didn’t.
How the case unfolded demonstrates the power of an officer's presence in the grand jury, the power of the officer's ability to make an uncontested statement and the prosecutor's ability to influence the process, according to an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News.
“Grand jurors are not legal technicians, they’re common people,” said one expert called by the prosecution.
Gatny wasn’t present in the first grand jury, which voted to hold her responsible for the shooting — but sat through the second, which cleared her of criminal charges.
Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com