Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Monday that Oxford school district administrators declined her offer to conduct an independent review of the shooting that left four students dead and several more injured last week.
The prosecutor told CNN’s Don Lemon last night that she was stunned by the school district’s rejection.
Dana Nessel: Oxford Said No to Investigation
“We had heard that the Oxford School District had indicated that they wanted a third party to review the policies and protocols that were in place and, really, the events leading up to the acts of November 30 and what happened during the course of the events. So I offered my department,” she told the anchor.
“We learned, just a short while ago, that the school district has turned down our offer and it said they’re going to go with a private security firm instead to conduct an internal review,” Nessel said.
“I’m disappointed, quite honestly.”
Nessel, Michigan’s top law enforcement officer, said she couldn’t understand why Oxford school administrators would turn down her team’s help in investigating the deadly shooting, but said she hoped that the “school district cares as much about the safety of their students as they do shielding themselves from civil liability.”
The Attorney General also implied she expects the Oxford community to be equally displeased with the school district’s decision.
“We’re going to talk to the parents and the students in Oxford and see what it is that they want to see happen. I’m sure they’re going to make their feelings known about the rejection of our offer.”
Could Oxford Admins Be Held Responsible for Shooting?
The surprising decision to decline help from state investigators came just days after Oxford High School staff began facing criticism for their actions in the hours before the shooting.
After reports emerged that Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old suspect, had been seen looking up ammunition and creating disturbing drawings before last Tuesday’s massacre, many questioned how the school administrators could allow him to return to class. Many believe the shooting could have been prevented if administrators searched his bag or locker.
Karen McDonald, the prosecutor for Oakland County, recently refused to rule out criminal liability for school faculty.
“That’s an investigative process that I’ll leave to law enforcement. I can tell you that there is outrage in the community,” she told ABC’s Good Morning America. “We should all be looking at the events that led up to that horrific event.”
Still, Detroit-area defense attorney David Steingold told the Associated Press, it’s unlikely that criminal charges against school administrators would stick.
“I see a lot of negligence, but I don’t foresee charges against anyone in the school,” he said. “You would have to show specific intent. No one on the staff intended to commit a crime.
While charges against school staff would be highly irregular — schools often face civil suits in the aftermath of active shooter scenarios but individuals are rarely charged with any criminal negligence — the legal fallout from the Oxford school shooting has already broken precedent with the prosecution of the suspect’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley.
The couple reportedly refused to take Ethan home the day of the shooting, and he was sent back to class. They’ve also admitted to purchasing a handgun for their son less than a week before it was allegedly used to kill four of his classmates.
James and Jennifer Crumbley were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, to which they’ve pleaded not guilty. They did not appear at their arraignment Friday, but were later taken into custody when they were found at an artist’s studio in Detroit.