The Florida Department of Law Enforcement's report on the shooting death of 17-year-old Javon Dawson should erase any doubts that Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe's investigation was less than satisfactory. The FDLE concluded that McCabe's investigation was "complete and thorough" and that no further action is needed. Gov. Charlie Crist was wrong to order FDLE to investigate the state attorney's work.
To reach its findings, FDLE reviewed crime-scene video and photos, 911 calls, witness statements and medical reports. Its conclusion is good news and should assure all reasonable people that the process has been fair and professional. The June 7 incident, when St. Petersburg police Officer Terrence Nemeth shot and killed Dawson outside a graduation party, produced unsubstantiated accusations of racism and demands for McCabe's dismissal from the case. Following FDLE's report, even McCabe's most ardent critics should see that the state attorney acted professionally.
While there was no clear need for any review, there were more appropriate avenues for the governor to pursue than to turn to FDLE. For example, he could have asked another state attorney or the attorney general to review McCabe's investigation. "It was inappropriate," McCabe told the St. Petersburg Times. "The system is set up so the prosecutor reviews what police do; it isn't set up the other way."
There was nothing to suggest McCabe's findings in this case warranted another look. But the next time another look is warranted, it should follow established procedures.