Experts discuss next steps in special prosecutor assignment for case of man killed by police

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Following the major announcement that a special prosecutor has been appointed in the Aaron Bailey case, experts are weighing in on what happens next.

On Tuesday, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced Kenneth Cotter from St. Joseph County will take over the case. Bailey’s family said they were pleased with the decision to seek a special prosecutor who would have a fresh pair of eyes on the case.

Dave Powell, Executive Director for The Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s Council, isn’t involved in this case, but said special prosecutor assignments happen frequently. He said they are typical for high-profile cases, but happen generally once a week for smaller cases. Powell said the assignment of a special prosecutor provides objectivity from someone who can’t be influenced by any of the parties involved.

“We want folks to have confidence in the system. The folks that have confidence that they will get a fair shake one way or another,” Powell said.

According to Powell, the benefits of a special prosecutor outweigh the risks of a potential conflict of interest. He said it can cause some cases to be delayed, though. In Cotter’s case, he must travel nearly 150 miles from St. Joseph County to Marion County.

“If you’re 100 miles away, that logistics take a little more time. What I would try to do is schedule days to come down to the community to work on the case, sometimes stay in a hotel and dedicate myself to the case while I’m there,” Powell said. “The nice thing about it is, when you come in, that’s your only case.”

In the Bailey case, Cotter will look at current evidence, evaluate it, and may ask for additional investigations or witness interviews. Then, he will decide whether or not the officers’ actions were justified by filing or not filing charges. He could also decide to send the case to a grand jury.

“You want to make sure you look at the law, you look at the facts and if you believe there’s probable cause, you can file an affidavit and a charge,” Powell said.

Cotter will start working on the case this week. Attorneys for Bailey’s family said they plan to meet with him soon.

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