UPDATED: Prosecutor Karen Richards rejects demand for her resignation; urges community to unite in fight against violence

Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards addresses reporters after members of a victims rights group demanded her resignation earlier Thursday. Richards, a Republican, said she will not run from a fight and will stand for re-election in November. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel-Long of The News-Sentinel.com)

“I’ve never run from a fight in my life, and I have no intention of doing so now,” an emotional Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards told reporters Thursday just hours after a local victims-rights group demanded her resignation for allegedly not doing enough to solve, prosecute and prevent homicides.

Tennille Walker-Bright, leader of Flip This City, a group that includes several relatives of homicide victims, had said at an earlier news conference that finding justice for victims’ families starts with Richards but does not end there.

“We have already made it clear that that we want the prosecutor replaced at the ballot box in November, but what we are saying now, on behalf of all homicide victims who have not received their justice, and all of the community who stands with us and supports us, as well as those who will in the future, is we want her to step down now,” Walker-Bright said, adding that Richards has failed to treat their victims and their families with fairness and dignity, has not taken enough cases to trial and has not worked effectively with local law enforcement agencies. Richards has also failed to engage the community in a search for ways to prevent homicides and other violent crimes, she added.

Richards, however, flatly rejected the notion that she lacks either aggression against criminals or compassion for their victims.

“I know people are frustrated; we are as well,” Richards said. “But that (frustration) should be directed at the appropriate place. We file cases based on evidence, not texting, innuendo, hearsay or other things you can’t use in a court of law.” If she doesn’t have a reasonable possibility of winning a conviction, Richards said it’s better to wait for stronger evidence to avoid being unable to prosecute again because of double jeopardy.

Richards again implored the community to cooperate with her office and the police, saying too many people are more willing to allow killers to go free than they are to be labeled a “snitch.”

Richards said she has talked with City Council members about filing an ordinance that would require apartment complexes to install video cameras that could provide essential evidence, but rejected Flip This City’s contention she has not done enough to prevent crime.

“That’s not my job, getting into economics or social issues,” she said.

Even though some Flip This City members have said they support a possible independent run for prosecutor by former Chief Deputy Mike Loomis, Richards said she hopes the group is acting out of pain, not politics. Richards also said she and her staff care about victims and their families. In fact, she has met with several Flip This City members and is willing to do so again.

“We’re all in this together,” she said. If you want to talk to me, call me.”.

Flip This City will hold another public meeting Saturday at noon at the Summit on West Rudisill Boulevard.