Justice Dept. Will Not Re-Open Investigation of 1970 Kent State Shootings [View all]
Source: Chronicle of Higher Education / The Plain Dealer
Justice Dept. Will Not Reopen Investigation of 1970 Kent State Shootings April 24, 2012, 12:09 pm
The U.S. Justice Department has refused to reopen an investigation into the May 4, 1970, shootings at Kent State University, in which four students were shot dead by Ohio National Guard troops, The Plain Dealer reported today. In a letter to a survivor of the shootings released on Monday, a Justice Department official said a newly discovered audiotape of the incident was inconclusive as to whether an altercation shortly before the shootings accounted for the National Guard troops’ readiness to open fire on unarmed students who were protesting the Vietnam War.
The official, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, also said the Constitution’s ban on “double jeopardy” made renewed prosecution of the soldiers impossible. Eight guardsmen were charged, but they were acquitted in 1974. The audiotape was discovered by Alan Canfora, who was wounded on that tragic day, and it was analyzed at the request of The Plain Dealer, a Cleveland newspaper. The analysis found that the shootings were preceded by a violent confrontation culminating in gunshots that may explain why the troops started shooting, nearly in unison, when they received a “prepare to fire” order. They shot 67 times in 13 seconds, and some said they had heard an order to fire. An explanation for the tragedy remains elusive, 42 years later.
Mr. Perez said the FBI’s analysis of the same audiotape found much of it undecipherable, with the possibility that the gunshots were simply slamming doors. Mr. Canfora told the newspaper that “it’s absurd for anyone to expect the Justice Department to thoroughly investigate itself, including its FBI division.”