Q&A on the News

Q: Why does shooting a police officer in the face only incur a charge of aggravated assault and not attempted murder?

— Mike Cooper, Atlanta

A: Several factors go into attempted murder charges, including intent and timing, Jessica D. Gabel, an associate professor of law at Georgia State, told Q&A on the News in an email. “The prosecution needs to prove that there was intent to commit murder, and if they can’t prove that, then the charge is usually dropped down to aggravated assault,” Gabel wrote. She also said it’s early in the case against Frank Emmitt Nance, 20, who was charged with nine counts, including aggravated assault against a police officer, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of cocaine, after he was accused of shooting Atlanta Police Department rookie officer Reggie Robinson in the face on Jan. 11. “More investigation may lead to additional charges (including attempted murder), and aggravated assault of a police officer is one that is obvious to hold the suspect and keep the suspect off the streets,” Gabel wrote. She also wrote: “There might be some sort of culpability on the part of the police officer or the circumstances of the arrest, although this is probably the most unlikely reason.”

Q: Are CNN’s Mary Snow and NBC’s Kate Snow related, or is it coincidental?

— William Johnston, Peachtree Corners

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A: Mary Snow, who is a New York-based correspondent for CNN’s “Situation Room,” is not related to Kate Snow, who is a news correspondent on NBC, a CNN spokeswoman told Q&A on the News in an email.

Andy Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).

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