The Lebanon County Branch of the NAACP has filed a complaint with the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania against District Attorney Pier Hess Graf. It alleges repeated violations of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct and the Canons of Ethics that apply to her as a County District Attorney.
The complaint centers on whether Graf’s office was the appropriate agency to investigate the use of lethal force against Charity Thome, a mentally distraught woman who led police on a late night chase in her vehicle in March of 2020, before being shot to death seven times by two Pennsylvania State Troopers. One of the troopers involved has shot and killed three other people, as well.
The four fatal shootings involving Trooper Jay Splain were documented in an extensive New York Times article published on December 30th, but NAACP President Tony Fields tells the Lebanon Valley Daily News that the group had been working on their complaint since mid 2021, about a year after Graf cleared Splain on any wrongdoing in Thome’s death:
He says because Graf’s husband is a State Police Corporal assigned to the same Jonestown barracks as Splain, and because her professional obligations require her to enforce law fairly and impartially, the investigation should have been turned over to an outside agency, such as the State Attorney General’s office.
So what measure does the NAACP want the disciplinary board to take against Graf?
The NAACP complaint says, “a thorough, unbiased investigation of the use of lethal force is in the best interest of the public and the officers involved.”
For her part, Graf says the complaint is meritless, and has more to do with her gender than with the facts of any of the cases her office investigates.