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Grand juries won’t review 2 shootings by police

Updated: 12/04/07 6:57 AM

Grand juries will not review the fatal shooting of an armed man by an Erie County sheriff’s deputy or the wounding of a burglary suspect by a Buffalo police officer, prosecutors confirmed Monday.

Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark said his office, Buffalo police and the Sheriff’s Office had conducted full investigations, and “no discernible issues of fact that had to be looked at by a grand jury were found in either case.”

Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Meredith, 37, shot Thomas Dodge, 30, July 25 at a Crescent Drive home on Grand Island, where Dodge had shot a 26- year-old woman he had broken up with days earlier.

Buffalo police Capt. Michael McCarthy, 40, shot Keon A. Hart, 27, of Roebling Avenue, in the elbow at about 8:30 p.m. Sept. 13 during a scuffle while investigating a burglary.

Thomas H. Burton, attorney for both officers, said he “totally agreed” with Clark’s action, which he described as the first such local administrative reviews to his knowledge. The decisions, he noted, would spare taxpayers the costs of extended grand jury proceedings and the officers the trauma of becoming possible “targets” of a criminal inquiry.

In the Grand Island case, Dodge probably would have killed the woman if Meredith hadn’t reacted instinctively, Burton said.

After the shooting, other deputies found a pipe bomb on the ground next to Dodge and a second in Dodge’s backpack, which prompted the evacuation of Crescent Road until the sheriff’s bomb squad removed the devices, Burton said.

In a subsequent search of Dodge’s apartment on Buffalo Avenue in Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls police and Erie County sheriff’s deputies found other weapons, including an assault rifle, plus 10 other pipe bombs loaded with shrapnel.

In the Buffalo shooting, Hart was free on bail after an arrest in a previous break-in when McCarthy, a lieutenant at the time, confronted him in the backyard of a home on Newburgh Avenue.

Police found fur coats and a jewelry box they say Hart had dumped outside the house while trying to escape, Burton said.