The eight-member Pine Bluff City Council unanimously supports an Arkansas State Police investigation of Saturday’s standoff in which 107-year-old Monroe Isadore, after shooting at Pine Bluff police, was shot and killed by an officer.
The Pine Bluff Police Department file on the incident was turned over to Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter late Wednesday. It’s generally up to the prosecutor in such a case to seek an independent investigation.
Alderwoman Thelma Walker said Wednesday afternoon that a written statement — saying that the council “would like an outside fair and impartial investigation” and requesting an ASP examination of the shooting — had been emailed to ASP Director Stan Witt “either Tuesday or Wednesday.” Walker said a copy of the communication would be mailed to Witt at the ASP’s Little Rock headquarters Thursday.
The communication was approved by Walker and Aldermen Charles Boyd, Glen Brown, Bill Brumett, Wayne Easterly, Lloyd Holcomb Jr. and George Stepps. Alderman Steven Mays — who also supports the idea of an ASP investigation — said Walker contacted him on the matter, but he became busy and was unable to endorse the memo before it was prepared for distribution.
“The community is quite upset and with a lot of opinions,” Walker wrote in her message to Witt. “It is our desire that the truth be told which ever (sic) the results so the city can begin to heal and move forward.”
Walker said it wasn’t her intention to indicate that local police aren’t capable of conducting their own investigation.
“Our position is that we need to have an investigation that will be accepted by the community,” she said.
“I think we need (an outside investigation),” Easterly said. “People feel better when outside eyes take a good look on something like this. I think the city needs to have an internal investigation as well, and if it winds up with the same conclusions as a state police investigation, it’ll be helpful to people here.”
Easterly believes an external probe would serve to ease some raw emotions.
Holcomb also addressed the strong reactions displayed by some toward the incident.
“From what I’m hearing, tensions could escalate,” he said. “I’ve received some calls from concerned citizens and I think the matter could escalate if some clear answers aren’t brought to the table.”
Holcomb, however, stressed the importance of people keeping their feelings in check.
“Be patient and let the investigation take place,” he urged.
Stepps said a state police investigation would be beneficial to everyone.
“This is something that needs to be done,” Stepps said. “We don’t know what uproar might happen if people don’t get answers to their questions, and we want to avoid any trouble. I think it would be wrong to put the whole weight of an investigation just on our local police. I think the most fair thing to do is have investigations by both our local and state police.”
Brumett, the council’s senior member, agreed with Stepps’ assessment.
“I’m for taking whatever steps that might ease tensions,” Brumett said. “I think that in an unfortunate situation like this, you need an outside authority’s investigation to go along with a local determination. I sincerely believe that a collaborative investigation would be the best for ensuring that the truth is brought out, and then we can deal with whatever the results may be.”
Boyd said he thinks the state police’s mere agreement to conduct a probe would help ease tensions.
“I think it would give people something to hold on to while all the facts are being collected,” he said. “I don’t think the public would be satisfied with just a Pine Bluff police investigation.”
Brown echoed Boyd, saying an ASP examination would provide an unbiased opinion and soothe those angered by the shooting.
Mays prefers that a state police probe follow a local investigation.
“I want a proper solution,” Mays said. “I’ll support anything that helps to bring a good closure for Mr. Isadore’s family, our city and our police department.”