Several Prince George's County correctional officers who had access to a 19-year-old inmate found strangled in solitary confinement Sunday have initially declined to speak to investigators of the slaying, a source familiar with the interrogations said.
The Maryland State Police and federal agents were investigating the death of Ronnie L. White, who was killed less than 36 hours after he was booked into the county correctional center on first-degree murder charges in the hit-and-run death Friday of county police Cpl. Richard S. Findley.
It wasn't clear why the correctional officers reportedly declined to answer questions. Sgt. Curtis Knowles, president of the county's correctional officers union, said the union's position is that its members can be interviewed only during work hours and with a union representative or attorney present, unless a criminal investigation is underway.
Sources close to the investigation, who like others in this report spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing, said county police collected most of the forensic evidence from White's cell Sunday, before state police took over the investigation at the request of county officials. An attorney for White's family called on the Justice Department, which has launched a civil rights probe, to be a partner in the criminal investigation.
"This did not happen on some dark, abandoned, lonely road," Bobby G. Henry Jr., the family's attorney, said at a news conference. "This happened in broad daylight, in the custody of county officials. Everyone who has someone or knows someone who is in the county correctional facility should have a problem with that."
The problem is, the US Justice Department already purged the Civil Rights division--thanks to the efforts of Brad Schlozman.
It is not, however, quite over yet.
Justice Department lawyers have filed a grand-jury referral stemming from the 2006 U.S. attorneys scandal, according to people familiar with the probe, a move indicating that the yearlong investigation may be entering a new phase.
The grand-jury referral, the first time the probe has moved beyond the investigative phase, relates to allegations of political meddling in the Justice Department’s civil-rights division, these people say. Specifically, it focuses on possible perjury by Bradley Schlozman, who served a year as interim U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Mo.
Mr. Schlozman left the Justice Department last year after he was challenged over his hiring of conservative lawyers at the civil-rights division and his decision later as U.S. attorney to bring voter-fraud charges against members of a left-leaning voter-registration group days before the 2006 election.
Schlozman, an inept character who’s almost amusing in his clumsiness, has a very serious problem on his hands, which will not only lead to the likely criminal prosecution of a former top official in Bush’s Justice Department, but once again bring into focus how the Bush administration operated.
We are ruled by incompetents and thugs.