The civil cases against Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson require a broad and comprehensive effort to find potentially relevant evidence. These efforts recently included obtaining sworn testimony from a Houston police investigator who believes Watson committed crimes.
via Brent Schrotenboer of USA TODAYUnder oath, Detective Kamcha Baker said she shares that view with the Harris County District Attorney’s office. Baker also said she did not know why the grand jury chose not to indict Watson.
Detective Becker, per Schrotenbauer, testified that she believed Watson committed criminal indecent assault, sexual assault, and prostitution, in cases where consensual sex and money circulation occurred.
Becker got this question: “Did you feel confident that you had the evidence to pursue these charges?”
She answered, “Yes.”
Then I was asked this question: “Was there any doubt in your mind as the investigating officer that a crime had taken place?”
She answered, “No.”
She also said that there was no dispute within her team that Watson had committed crimes. Baker testified that she met with Attorney General Jonah Stallings to share her views on the matter.
“I made it clear to her that we found the complainants reliable and trustworthy,” Becker testified. “That’s why we issued an order stating that they are credible and trusted.”
Baker did not testify during the Harris County grand jury proceedings on nine criminal complaints. She said Stallings told her that Watson’s attorney, Rusty Harden, would have objections to Baker’s testimony to the grand jury. This is baffling, because the suspect’s attorney has no capacity to object to anything the plaintiff does during grand jury proceedings.
“The presumption of innocence is a fundamental principle of our justice system,” attorney Leah Graham told Schreutenbauer in a statement on Friday. “It is very unfortunate that this assumption was not given by one of the investigating officers, Deshaun Watson. Ultimately, however, justice was served by two grand juries in two separate jurisdictions who did what this investigator refused to do: take a fair look. and impartial to all the evidence before arriving at a conclusion.”
Frankly, playing the “presumption of innocence” card in this context is highly disingenuous and deliberately misleading. The presumption of innocence only applies after the suspect has been formally charged with a crime. If every police officer walked around assuming the innocence of every potential suspect, no one would ever be charged.
The police identify the people they believe are factually guilty. Prosecutors, often working with a grand jury, frame charges, if any, that stem from available facts. Then, if the suspect becomes a defendant in an imminent criminal trial, the presumption of innocence is bound.
Justice, contrary to Graham’s statement, was not rendered exclusively by a grand jury. In practice, justice has been referred to the civil justice system.
Again, the grand jury’s decisions are not conclusive, especially without access to the full presentation given by Stallings. As we explained earlier this week, Stallings may have chosen to share information provided to her by Watson’s legal team in the hope that a grand jury would not incriminate Watson, which would have forced her to try to prove multiple crimes beyond a reasonable doubt — while dealing with a dream team of Highly priced lawyers who, as Rusty Harden demonstrated through frequent contact with Stallings before grand jury presentations, would have made her life as a miserable business case for the duration of criminal cases.