Inside the Newsroom: The Angilau case and the soon-to-be-public video


Siale Maveni Angilau, also known as “C-Down,” was in federal court April 14, 2014, listening to the witness testify about the inner workings of the Tongan Crips gang.

Angilau, the defendant in this courtroom, was the last of 16 gang members to stand trial in an ongoing racketeering case after a string of robberies and assaults that law enforcement officers said lasted for years.

He didn’t like what he was hearing from the witness stand.

“He was telling about the secrets and the activities of the TCG gang life. His testimony was going on and on for several minutes. Then, all of a sudden, that’s when he was attacked,” a juror, an eyewitness to the attack, told Deseret News reporters Dennis Romboy and Pat Reavy. “I saw the defendant charge over and try to jump over the desk to reach the witness.”

Angilau appeared to have something in his hand as he lunged toward the witness. That’s when a federal marshal, who was standing between the jury box and the witness stand, drew her weapon, firing into Angilau’s chest. He died soon after the shooting.

There is video of the altercation, but law enforcement has refused to release it. But that will change Monday.

Shootings in a courthouse are rare, and bring with them plenty of questions. Among them in this case:

The new 410,000-square-foot courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City was in its first week of use when the shooting occurred. Was security adequate? Were marshals in the proper position? The witness was successfully protected. So can others who take a witness stand also feel safe? And what of the marshal? Authorities still refuse to identify her, saying it served no purpose after ruling the shooting justified.

Video of the altercation will shed light on what occurred and either build public confidence that all was done well, or raise other questions that could lead to calls for change. Some accuse the media of seeking such video because it’s dramatic and gets ratings. It actually allows the media to be a watchdog representing the public and allowing viewers to weigh in if security is adequate, if law enforcement and the public not only acted correctly, but are themselves adequately protected.

One need only look to the video of nurse Alex Wubbels who won a $500,000 settlement after her confrontation with Salt Lake police detective Jeff Payne, who lost his job over the incident, as an example of how public scrutiny can change policy and protect the public interest.

Here’s how the planned Monday release came to be, as outlined by my colleague McKenzie Romero, a Deseret News reporter and also the president of the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Siale Angilau, 25, was shot four times in the middle of his jury trial after grabbing a pen and lunging over a table where he was seated with his attorneys, charging at the witness stand. Before he could reach the witness, a U.S. marshal identified in court documents as “Jane Doe” fired …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Top stories


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