New U.S. Attorney Talks Priorities, Lessons Learned As DA

Nov 29, 2017

This week prosecutor Andrew Murray switched courthouses from Mecklenburg County’s to the U.S. district courthouse down the street. Murray is now the top federal prosecutor for Mecklenburg and 31 other counties. He talked about his priorities in his new role as U.S attorney for North Carolina’s Western District and reflected on his seven years as district attorney.

On Murray’s priorities for the state’s western district

“Priorities initially will be the same priorities as the Department of Justice’s and making certain we take care of trans-national gangs…certainly MS-13. Certainly, making certain that we look at drug trafficking in this district. Looking at human trafficking. Protecting officers and violence against officers. Opioid addiction is an epidemic across this district. It's an epidemic across the nation. So we need to collaborate with our local law enforcement partners, with those that are in nonprofits around this district. We need to get a hold of opioid addiction. That's the main priority right now.” 

Impact of president’s comments about federal prosecutors’ work

My job is to do justice, to follow the law, and to follow the facts in specific cases and apply that to the law. So I don't see anything other than following the law of the United States and making sure it's applied fairly.”

On evaluating officer-involved shootings as DA

“When I first did officer-involved shooting. I would do a two page report saying why we made the decision and then it ended up to be 230 and 250 page report with pictures and interviews and everything because the public needs to know that they are entrusting me and others with maintaining justice and making certain justice is done in this community. So being transparent is something I will do to the best of my ability.”

Response to those who thought officers should’ve been charged in Scott and Galindo shootings

I provided all the evidence. We're as transparent as possible. And it's my belief once you review everything in that release, all the evidence of the facts, that you come to the same conclusion that I came to. Don't just listen to outside sources, don't listen to just, go in and read the report. I think the decision was obvious in both of those cases. They were tragic, but the fact is each officer had the right, based on self-defense, to protect his life or the life of others.”

On recommending a Democrat to replace him as DA. (Murray is a Republican.)

“I'll tell you that justice doesn't have an R behind it. Justice is justice. And so Spencer [Merriweather] is an incredibly qualified capable now district attorney. He was on my team for seven years and was hired by my predecessor. He had shown himself to have great common sense, to be a leader. He was on my leadership team. He had tried some extremely difficult cases of rape cases and he ran my habitual team, an important team to keep the city safe, to make sure all offenders get off the streets. And so he had risen to the top of being the most qualified person in my office to take the job.”

Advice he’s offered to Merriweather

I told him to make certain that he picked good, exemplary people and make sure that....they are willing to play devil's advocate, are willing to challenge you. And that's important to have somebody to keep you in check.”