A jury shooting simulator, which is aimed at training grand jurors in Houston to prepare them for cases before they are heard, is causing a storm and stirring some serious debate.
In a large screen interactive educational simulation, an armed carjacker threatens to kill you if you don’t give him your keys. You are holding a modified gun that emits a beam so you can shoot the would-be carjackers. Interesting training for grand jurors don’t you think?
According to the Harris County district attorney’s office in Houston, the shooting simulator, which is only to be used in Texas, helps jurors to better understand what it feels like to be confronted with a threat.
Due to a streak of almost 300 cases where grand juries cleared Houston police officers in a shooting, the jury shooting simulator is a point of contention among critics who said that the simulator promotes a pro-law enforcement mindset.
Joseph Gutheinz, a defense attorney said: “(Grand jurors) should not be naturally in one camp or the other. They should be after the truth.”
Chief of the civil rights division at the DA’s office, Julian Ramirez, added to the debate: “When a claim of self-defense is raised, whether by an officer or a civilian, the law requires the circumstances be viewed from… the person using deadly force,” he said.
The Bexar County district attorney’s office in San Antonio is known to be the only other major DA’s office in Texas that offers the jury shooting simulator to jurors. The orientations can also include a visit to the medical examiner’s office, or taking a ride in a police car.
Despite the debate that the simulator has stirred, it still remains to be seen whether or not other states will embrace the same methods of training their grand jurors. Some people are questioning if the jury shooting simulator is a useful educational tool, or a just a bad idea.