The federal attorney who was assigned to oversee last year’s fatal shooting of Trey Joyner has passed the case over to prosecutors in Philadelphia.

Ron Machen had been under heat to solve the June 8, 2009 shooting, in which six U.S. Park Police officers were accused of shooting the 24-year-old in the back.

The officers had been canvassing the area as part of an FBI sting. They were patrolling the 1200 block of Holbrook St. in the Trinidad neighborhood after receiving a call about a man with a gun. The officers reportedly accosted Joyner, who they alleged had a gun, and a struggle ensued. But witnesses have maintained that Joyner was unarmed.

Joyner’s family, which has continually expressed outrage over the shooting , has gone so far as to maintain that their loved one was executed.

This week they joined forces with neighbors and civil liberties groups at the John A. Wilson Building in downtown Washington where they demanded a full report on the shooting and called for the end of police brutality.

Meanwhile, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a civil rights attorney with the District-based Partnership for Civil Justice, said despite numerous attempts to find out just what happened that day, their efforts have stalled.

“We’re working separately from the attorney for Trey Joyner’s family,” said Verheyden-Hilliard. “We are a public interest organization and we do a lot of work on the issue of police misconduct in the District of Columbia communities.”

She continued, “We have tried to get information through the {Freedom of Information Act} on both the shooting of Joyner as well as the underlying operation that was in play when it occurred.”

Verheyden-Hilliard was referencing the FBI’s “Operation Safe Streets,” an initiative of which she said little is known.

“It’s fairly secretive and there’s very little information on it,” Verheyden-Hilliard said. “We’ve been demanding it from the government. It’s a federal operation  . . . and they’re apparently just sending guys into our neighborhoods with guns dressed in plain clothes.”

Lindsay Godwin, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington field office, said because the case remains under investigation she could not comment.

However, she explained that OSS, which involves the Metropolitan Police Department, is “basically a very public task force comprised of multiple law enforcement entities . . . with at least 100 initiatives spread across the country. It’s an information-sharing effort as to what is going on in respective jurisdictions.”

Godwin also refuted Verheyden-Hilliard’s assertion that the initiative was secretive, saying information about OSS could be found on the FBI’s Web site.

Nevertheless, Verheyden-Hilliard said District residents know little to nothing about what the law enforcement operations entail.

“We want to know what are the criteria for participation – what are the ground rules – and yet they won’t tell us,” she said. “So it looks like we’re now going to have to go to court to get the information.”

While Park Police have contended there was no wrongdoing on their part, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton along with the victim’s family has been outraged. Joyner’s family has also gone so far as to claim he was executed.

A month after the shooting, Norton asked the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights division to launch an independent investigation into the shooting.  But the congresswoman said later that she was dismayed to realize the investigation was being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s office instead. Norton then wrote a letter to newly-appointed U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder expressing her concerns.

“This incident has raised considerable consternation here, but one thing I thought had been settled was that an independent body would be investigating the Trinidad shooting,” Norton wrote. “I seek immediate clarification and I believe that such clarification is due as well to the family and to the citizens I represent.”

Department of Justice spokeswoman Alejandro Miyar confirmed to the AFRO that the District Attorney’s Office has been recused in the matter.

Otherwise, “ correct that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia is now investigating and that the Justice Department’s civil rights division has an open investigation as well,” Miyar said.

 

DorothyRowley

AFROStaffWriter