Attorney General Doug Peterson has turned down a request by 17 state senators to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Nebraska State Patrol. He insists he has no power to comply with the request.
Peterson, in response to the letter sent him by the senators, says state law dictates he defend members of the Nebraska State Patrol, not prosecute them.
“We can play political games and write letters, but the fact of the matter is that I have absolutely no authority, in fact, I have a statute right on point passed by the Nebraska legislature that says I cannot, I must defend those individuals,” Peterson tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Peterson says while he has no power to appoint a special prosecutor, he has confidence the FBI will file charges if appropriate and county attorneys will look into any evidence the federal investigation might uncover.
“I have to step out of the whole equation, but I am very comfortable that the FBI is investigating the matter,” Peterson says.
The group of state senators requested in a letter that Peterson request the courts appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether the Nebraska State Patrol broke any state laws. The request came after an investigation conducted by Gov. Pete Ricketts’ administration led to the firing of then-Superintendent Brad Rice and the suspension of five other NSP officers.
The Ricketts Administration turned over its findings to the FBI.
The investigation states that how the NSP chain of commanded handled two allegations troopers used excessive force raises suspicions of dishonesty and dereliction of duty. In one case, a trooper used a tactical maneuver during a pursuit, resulting in a wreck in which the suspect died. The second case involved allegations a trooper hit a drunk suspect in the head with a rifle butt.
The investigation also states NSP failed to forward 12 cases of misconduct onto the Crime Commission as required by law. The investigation also faults the patrol’s sexual harassment and workplace harassment policies and accuses the patrol of failing to address charges of misconduct.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]