A Saturday incident in which a 107-year-old man was shot and killed by a Pine Bluff police officer prompted some hostile reactions during Monday night’s town hall meeting at the convention center.
The meeting began with Mayor Debe Hollingsworth directing a moment of silence to honor Monroe Isadore, an acquaintance of the mayor.
Other matters were initially addressed in the meeting’s discussion period, but the subject of the standoff and shooting at 1411 W. 16th Ave. was soon introduced by an attendee who said the talk needed to turn to the “107-year-old man who was murdered.” The statement was greeted with scattered murmurs of support.
Hollingsworth insisted on “orderly conduct in respect to Mr. Isadore.”
“We will answer questions as we can, but please be respectful,” she said.
Describing herself as a close friend of Isadore, D’anna Maxwell called him “an amazing, God-fearing man.”
She asked audience members to reserve judgment on the shooting.
“People don’t understand yet,” she said as she cried. “They need to stay calm.”
Maxwell pressed for harmony, saying, “We all need to respect each other. Don’t say such horrible things. He would not want this. He loved everybody and everybody loved him.”
She bemoaned whatever failures might have contributed to his death, saying, “We, as a community, let him down.”
The Rev. Jesse Turner reprimanded some of his fellow African-American residents for their responses to the shooting.
“As long as black people are killing black people, you guys say nothing,” he said, “but as soon as you think there’s a racial issue to it, you come out of the woodwork.”
After urging pastors and police to work more closely so that ministers might provide assistance by intervening in such confrontations, Turner appealed for composure.
“Let’s not fight,” he said, saying residents should join forces to help advance the city.
Another man asserted that police acted improperly in Isadore’s death, and instead of imploring deadly force should have overtaken him physically after allowing him to fall to sleep.
Hollingsworth said the public would be able to see a police video of the standoff and inspect the entire case file after Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter makes a determination on the matter.
Former Pine Bluff alderman Jack Foster disapproved of the mayor’s offer, saying, “We’ve got some recent history” with Hunter. Foster indicated disappointment in another case handled by the prosecutor, and complained that the police department doesn’t have a black hostage negotiator.
“What was the rush?” Foster asked in reference to Isadore’s death. “Why was there a rush to judgment?”
Interim Police Chief Jeff Hubanks, in response to additional questioning from Foster, said the department’s deadly force policy is on its web site. He also told Foster that he had been “misinformed,” as the department counts two African-American negotiators, although neither was present at Saturday’s standoff.
Another attendee condemned the mayor for “not being transparent” in the matters. Hollingsworth responded by saying some particulars of the case could not be discussed while an investigation is continuing.
“That’s not me not being transparent,” she said. “That’s everywhere. That’s not just Pine Bluff.”
The Rev. Alfred Carroll, a former Jefferson County justice of the peace, said he wants “someone held accountable” in Isadore’s death. Carroll voiced his differences with Turner, saying many see Turner as “self-serving” instead of a community leader.
“Things are being said that aren’t true,” interjected Maxwell, urging that citizens “let things transpire.”
“Quit going after each other,” she said. “Don’t point fingers.” She encouraged everyone to “come together” so that a similar tragedy might be avoided.
Hollingsworth called an end to the event when a woman — who identified herself as a granddaughter of Isadore and denounced the police handling of the confrontation while proclaiming that her grandfather should still be alive and preparing for his 108th birthday — engaged in a brief disagreement with Maxwell.