Melton calls for federal probe

Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith said he is pressing forward with his investigation into the 1995 shooting death of Jackson police officer Robert Washington although Jackson Mayor Frank Melton has called for a full federal probe.

“I’m going to let the DEA and the FBI get to the bottom of this,” Melton said.

“I don’t know either of these guys, but it’s safe to say they didn’t go to Harvard,” he said. “Somebody is behind this and I’ve got to find out who.”

But former Jackson Police Chief Robert Johnson said investigators at the time of Washington’s death were aware Melton and Moore knew each other. Johnson said Moore immediately became a prime suspect in Washington’s shooting death, but Melton was never a target of the investigation.

Smith said the FBI already has had limited involvement in the investigation, and agents have helped interview some potential witnesses. If the federal agencies take Melton’s offer for a new investigation, Smith said it likely would be separate from his own since he has to bring his case to trial.

“We already have an indictment (of Moore) so we are already going to have to continue what we are doing,” he said.

The FBI already has been probing aspects of Melton’s administration, including his police-style tactics and a city contract with Wood Street Lawn Service, a group of young men who had been involved in criminal activity.

FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden said she did not know whether Special Agent in Charge Fred Brink, who was out of town Thursday, had seen the letter. She said it is not unusual for federal and local law enforcement to cooperate on cases where special expertise is needed or the alleged criminal activity touches on an area where the FBI has jurisdiction, such as public corruption.

Clarion Ledger