Computer Simulator Helps Grand Juries be “Objective” about Police Shootings

I have mentioned at least one grand jury that made an inexplicable decision to not prosecute a police officer who killed a person who was not committing a crime. But in Harris County Texas, the decisions may be easier to understand.

According to Reuters,

The armed carjacker projected on a large screen threatens to kill you if you don’t give up your keys. Holding a modified gun that emits a beam, you pull the trigger when he draws his weapon, and seconds later fire again at another person who jumps in front with something in his hand.

The second person turns out to be a bystander holding a cellphone.

This interactive way of illustrating the use of deadly force is part of unusual training that Houston-area grand jurors can receive before they begin hearing cases, including those involving police officers.

The Harris County district attorney’s office in Houston calls the shooting simulator — which experts believe is only being used in Texas — an educational tool that helps grand jurors better understand what someone sees when confronted by a threat.

But amid a streak of nearly 300 cases in which grand juries have cleared Houston police officers in shootings, the training has become a point of contention among critics who say the simulator promotes a pro-law enforcement mindset. One defense attorney recently unsuccessfully challenged the simulator’s use, calling it mind manipulation.

“(Grand jurors) should not be naturally in one camp or the other,” said Joseph Gutheinz, a retired federal agent who served on a Harris County grand jury in 2008 and is critical of the simulator’s use. “They should be after the truth.”

In my opinion, it is really simple to tell if this simulator is helpful to get to the truth or not: Is it used for self-defense cases where someone who is not a police officer is accused of a wrongful death?

If the simulator is used or adapted to be used for such people, then it might be a an OK tool for Grand Juries. But if it is never used to help Grand Juries decide cases for non-police then I suspect it is meant to bias the Grand Jury to favor the police.