ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis’ top prosecutor, with a strong show of support from black clergy, legislators and other leaders, said Thursday that an eight-month grand jury investigation found no evidence to indict her and that it’s time to move on.
Kim Gardner spoke at a news conference while surrounded by about three dozen people, several of whom praised the city’s first black female circuit attorney and questioned whether the investigation of her was motivated by race.
The grand jury last month issued a seven-count indictment of William Tisaby, a former FBI agent hired by Gardner to investigate former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. The Republican governor was charged in February 2018 with felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking an unauthorized, compromising cellphone photo of a woman during an extramarital affair in 2015.
The charge was eventually dropped but Greitens resigned in June 2018.
Tisaby, who also is black, was indicted last month on perjury and evidence tampering. He was accused of lying during a deposition in the Greitens case.
The indictment of Tisaby raised concerns about whether Gardner was complicit in his alleged crimes, saying she failed to correct Tisaby’s inaccuracies or report them, and that she herself made incorrect statements to defense lawyers and a judge.
But the grand jury disbanded Monday without a second indictment. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, citing unnamed sources, reported that Gardner was still under investigation and that a special prosecutor may request another grand jury.
Gardner declined to discuss specific details of the Tisaby case but said she did nothing illegal or unethical.
“Now, we have to stop spending our time and limited resources looking at one case as if this is the only measure of competence and success,” Gardner said. She said the “true measure” is how her office handles 10,000 cases annually, works to reduce incarceration for low-level offenses and treats addiction as a public health problem rather than a crime.
Others who spoke at the news conference said convening a second grand jury to investigate Gardner would create more mistrust of the criminal justice system among St. Louis’ black residents.
Democratic state Rep. Steven Roberts, chairman of the Legislature’s Black Caucus, said the grand jury system is meant to protect against “oppressive” prosecution.
“Forum shopping for a grand jury after not issuing an indictment without any additional evidence would be a great miscarriage of justice,” Roberts said.
Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis NAACP, said the city’s black community “felt it was under attack when she (Gardner) was under attack.” He said Gardner’s reforms have “allowed for the scales of justice, in our estimation, to be as balanced as possible, and we haven’t seen that before.”