State law enforcement officials hoping to help stem the violence plaguing Hartford are leaning toward convening a secret grand jury to help investigate unsolved shootings, says the Hartford Courant. It would be a rare move that would give the state the ability to force people to testify. Officials blame much of the gunfire on young people and on the reality that others won’t come forward and speak to police. A subpoena to testify before the grand jury is hard to ignore. “You’d be surprised at how much power subpoenas carry and how people who were reluctant to talk or couldn’t remember anything suddenly remember everything,” said a law enforcement source.
“Mayor [Eddie] Perez thinks it is an excellent idea to break the ‘wall of silence’ in regards to these shootings.” said Sarah Barr, his spokeswoman. Grand juries are normally reserved for white-collar crimes or political corruption cases. Once set in motion, a judge acts as the panel’s lone grand juror. That judge has the ability to direct people to testify or produce evidence, and the judge also has the ability to immunize witnesses from prosecution, based on the information they provide. As of Aug. 2, the city had 106 shooting incidents and 137 shooting victims this year. Last weekend, 11 more people were shot. Seven victims, including a 7-year-old child and a 17-month-old baby, were shot after the city’s annual West Indian parade.