Our View: Grand jury made the right call
A Washington County grand jury decided last week not to indict the three Woodbury police officers involved in a fatal shooting last summer.
Based on the limited information available to the public, we believe the jurors made the right call. The difficult part in vetting the decision, however, lies in the secrecy involved in grand jury hearings; they occur behind closed doors and the details from the hearings are permanently sealed.
We won't rehash the public details of the case involving the death of Mark Henderson, but it's worth recalling that officers were placed in a dangerous, confined situation at the Red Roof Inn where a gun had just been pointed through a window at one of them. Moments later, a gunshot goes off and a man - later determined to be Henderson - bolts from the room and doesn't respond to officers' commands. He is shot dead by officers.
While we assume the officers made the best call with the information they had at the time, it does not detract from the fact that Henderson died at the hands of Woodbury police.
Henderson's mother correctly states that her son died as a result of homicide. We submit - again, based on limited public information - that the officers who shot him did not act recklessly or negligently during the incident. Still, Henderson is dead and his mother seeks justice.
Not surprisingly, Henderson's mother said she has taken steps to pursue the case through a civil lawsuit. Meanwhile, the suspect in the incident, Demetrius Santreell Ballinger - the one who admitted to firing a shot at Henderson before allegedly spending the next several hours raping teenagers at gunpoint during a hostage situation inside the motel room - awaits his day in court. Among the 27 charges Ballinger faces is attempted murder.
A lot of things went wrong the night of Aug. 31, 2012, at the Red Roof Inn. Most of them can never be righted. We believe justice is still possible for the Henderson family, though the grand jury was right not to return an indictment against the officers.