The Arkansas State Police have rejected a request by Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter to investigate the weekend shooting death of 107-year-old Monroe Isadore, and Hunter has recused himself and asked that a special prosecutor be appointed to review the case.
Isadore was killed Saturday after he exchanged gunfire with Pine Bluff police officers at the end of a standoff that lasted more than three hours.
Hunter, who described the ASP decision not to conduct an outside investigation into Isadore’s death as “disappointing,” pointed out in his motion to recuse that his position requires him to work closely with local law enforcement and that the events surrounding Isadore’s death included decisions made by Interim Police Chief Jeff Hubanks and other high-ranking police officials.
Hunter’s involvement with the Isadore case “could adversely affect said working relationship which would be detrimental to the administration of criminal justice in Jefferson County,” he said in his motion, filed Thursday morning in Jefferson County Circuit Court.
Circuit Judge Berlin C. Jones signed an order approving Hunter’s request, and directed Prosecutor Coordinator Bob McMahon to appoint a special prosecutor to review the case.
The Pine Bluff Police Department conducted two separate investigations into Isadore’s death — one an internal investigation to determine whether department policy was followed and the other a criminal investigation — and turned over the case files from those investigations to Hunter on Thursday.
One police officer, who has not been identified, remains on administrative leave with pay in connection with Isadore’s death.
Hunter said the appointment of a special prosecutor “will allow someone from outside our county to review and make the necessary decisions in this matter.”
Maj. Henry LaMar, commander of the ASP’s Criminal Investigation Division, said in a letter to Hunter that a request for an independent investigation “must be made in a timely manner to permit Special Agents of the Criminal Investigation Division access to the shooting scene prior to the removal of evidence and before the officers involved in the shooting are permitted to be released and interact following witness segregation.”
He said such investigations are limited to the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer, and an investigation of a 9-1-1 call, the initial law enforcement response, the interactions of law enforcement personnel and witnesses before the shooting and the “procedural process by which SWAT officers made a decision to enter a residence would not be applicable” under state law.
Lamar also said there had been “a significant lapse of more than three days before anyone requested an independent investigation” and any attempts to go back and recreate the scene, collect physical evidence and get statements from officers and witnesses “amounts to a style of investigation far outside accepted and sound law enforcement practices.”