An attorney for the family of the late Monroe Isadore said Tuesday that one of the family’s goals is to make video footage of Isadore’s death “bigger than just Pine Bluff, bigger than Arkansas.
“We want to make it a national issue,” attorney Benjamin Crump said during a meeting at the Plaza Hotel adjacent to the Pine Bluff Convention Center.
Isadore, 107, was killed after he exchanged gunfire with police following a standoff that lasted several hours on Sept. 7, 2013. At Tuesday’s meeting, Crump and attorneys John Walker and Lawrence Anthony Walker, both of Little Rock, who are also representing Isadore’s family, showed video footage of the moments leading up to Isadore’s death.
“We want to blow up social media with that video and let the police and special prosecutors know that if they can do that to Mr. Isadore, who represented the best of us, then none of us is safe,” Crump said.
Crump, who represented the family of Trayvon Martin in a wrongful-death lawsuit, said earlier that the Isadore family “thanks you all for fighting and not letting them (police) get away with it.
John Walker also said a lawsuit is planned but added: “This family does not want just money; they want justice for their father.”
He did not elaborate on the timing or content of a potential lawsuit.
Two special prosecutors who reviewed the case determined that no criminal charges were warranted against the officer who fired the shots, Brad Vilches.
Vilches, who was suspended with pay while the police department conducted an internal investigation to determine if department policy was followed, has since returned to duty.
Lawrence Walker has filed a lawsuit against Pine Bluff Police Chief Jeff Hubanks and the city, alleging that attorneys for the family have not been given all the information they requested under the state’s Freedom of Information Act, including any information on other police-involved shootings, as well as any discussion or mention of Isadore in police documents.
At the meeting Tuesday, John Walker and Crump both also said they wanted the rest of the videotape showing Isadore being shot, as well as copies of all the radio transmissions that occurred during the standoff, and Lawrence Walker said after the meeting that additional legal action is planned to obtain those items.
When the special prosecutors released their report, they released video footage of the incident that stopped just after tear gas was fired into the room where Isadore was lying on his bed, before he was shot. That video, which The Commercial ran on its website, was shown at the meeting, as were autopsy photos, which The Commercial did not publish.
“This was Grandpa,” Crump said. “He was shot eight times for no reason. A man that never committed a crime was executed by police.
“How much of a threat was Monroe Isadore? Crump said. “The whole time he was in bed. The video surveillance went on for over 45 minutes and he never got off the bed.”
When Hubanks was interviewed by the special prosecutors, he said he “wouldn’t have done one thing different” and Crump hammered on that statement several times, saying that Hubanks did not contact Isadore’s family to try to resolve the issue, that the department did not have the right personnel at the scene, and that the department violated its own policies when officers entered the room where Isadore was.
Crump also said negotiations with Isadore lasted only about 45 minutes and quoting Isadore’s daughter, Marilyn Howard, who said her father spent most of his time sleeping, Crump said “Don’t you think Monroe Isadore would have fallen asleep? Don’t you think the tear gas would have worked?”
When Hubanks was interviewed as part of the special prosecutors’ investigation, he said Isadore showed no reaction to the gas other than to fire shots at the window where police SWAT team members had thrown the gas into the room.
After the attorneys and family members spoke, the floor was opened for comments from the audience with Classie Green saying that she first met Isadore in 2009 when the NAACP was preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary and continued to see him until he died.
“He was like a grandfather to me,” Green said. “Our concern is for justice and dignity and we have to stand up and continue to work together.”
A number of other speakers were critical of Hubanks and Mayor Debe Hollingworth, who hired Hubanks after firing former police chief Brenda Davis-Jones on Jan. 1, 2013. Several brought up race and local politics in their comments.
John Walker closed the meeting by saying that it was not a racial issue, but rather an issue of helping those who are “oppressed and have no power.”
They (police) couldn’t wait for the tear gas to work and that brought all of us together,” John Walker said.