Review clears courts in cases of suspect in cop’s death
BOSTON (AP) — A review has found no fault with the state court system’s handling of several criminal cases against the man who police say shot and killed an Auburn police officer last month.
But the 34-page report released Monday by Paul Dawley, the chief justice of the state’s district court, also called for a re-evaluation of how cases involving “high-risk” offenders are handled.
Jorge Zambrano, 35, shot and killed officer Ronald Tarentino during a May 22 traffic stop, authorities said. Zambrano died later that day in a gun battle with police that followed a massive manhunt.
He was free despite a lengthy criminal record and several pending criminal cases against him at the time of the shooting, including two that involved violent encounters with police, according to court records. He had been arrested multiple times since being released from a state prison in November 2013 after serving a seven-year sentence on charges including cocaine trafficking, assault and battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.
Zambrano was on probation in three district court criminal cases and was on release awaiting trial or disposition in two other cases, Dawley’s review found.
“This examination of court records and proceedings finds that the judicial decisions in Zambrano’s pending criminal cases were made by each judge in accordance with the law and complied with relevant statutes, common law, and constitutional principles,” Dawley wrote.
The judges who presided over the cases had about 50 years of combined judicial experience and “strong reputations for fairness,” he added.
The state’s probation commissioner also found that Zambrano’s probation officer acted properly, the report said.
Despite those findings, Dawley wrote that the “tragic circumstances” surrounding the case warrant a further examining of existing court procedures and current law.
Among the recommendations are that the state’s trial court review how it assesses a defendant’s overall dangerousness and risk of reoffending; review probation policies and standards for “high risk” probationers; and provide more information to judges and other court officials on which to base their decisions on bail and release.
Paula Carey, the chief justice of the state’s trial court, said a task force would be created to develop and implement the recommendations.
“Our judges make significant decisions every day, and the recommendations in this report seek to provide them with important additional information upon which to base these decisions,” Carey said in a statement.