When you think of crime and punishment, you might think of two things:


"Law and Order"


and "12 Angry Men"

But there's an important step between the two that we're missing here: grand juries.

Normally, the police will work with the local prosecutor (or district attorney) to make sure the appropriate charges are brought against a suspect.

Those charges, along with the evidence, are brought to a grand jury, which weighs the evidence and decides whether it is sufficient to warrant a full trial (an indictment). But grand jury proceedings are totally different from a trial.

What makes a grand jury different?

So it's no surprise that most grand juries choose to indict. The prosecutor wants the grand jury to indict, so the prosecutor provides a narrative that seems ... indict-y.

Then why don't cops get indicted and sent to trial?

The Houston Chronicle examined the issue and found that officers are almost never indicted after killing unarmed civilians.

When interviewed, Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers' Union, told the Chronicle that the discrepancy is because jurors tend to empathize with the police:

Legal experts say it's all about the prosecutor.

James Cohen, a law professor at Fordham University who specializes in criminal procedure, tells Gothamist:

Collette Flanagan, founder of the organization Mothers Against Police Brutality, told U.S. News and World Report:

Jason Leventhal, a former Staten Island assistant district attorney, told The Christian Science Monitor:

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