Two deputy prosecutors on the staff of the state Office of the Prosecutor Coordinator have been appointed to investigate the use of deadly physical force by Pine Bluff police officers in the Sept. 7 shooting death of 107-year-old Monroe Isadore.
Jason Barrett will act as special prosecutor and John (Jack) McQuary will be the special deputy prosecutor, according to Bob McMahon, the director of the state office, who selected the two men Friday.
“I met with them both this morning to see if they had time and they both did so I sent them down to Pine Bluff to get sworn in and they’re already on the job,” McMahon said.
Circuit Judge Berlin C. Jones signed the order appointing Barrett and McQuary on Friday.
The order gives Barrett and McQuary full authority to investigate and prosecute the case at their discretion.
According to Jones’ order, the appointments will expire at the end of the investigation or any related prosecution, or until further orders of the court.
Jones also issued a gag order prohibiting law enforcement officers or agencies from discussing, communicating or releasing any information concerning the incident or the investigation into Isadore’s death.
The gag order also seals any records, subpoenas or files kept by The Jefferson County Circuit Clerk in connection with the investigation.
The appointments followed Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter’s request to Jones that he and his office be removed from the case, a request that Jones granted Thursday.
In his motion to withdraw, Hunter said his position requires him to work closely with local law enforcement and that the events surrounding Isadore’s death involved decisions made by Police Chief Jeff Hubanks and other high ranking police officials.
He said in the motion that involvement in the case “could adversely affect said working relationship which would be detrimental to the administration of criminal justice in Jefferson County.”
A letter from Barrett and addressed to all news agencies and individuals released Friday afternoon said he and McQuary are bound by Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct and cannot comment on any on-going investigations.
Barrett said he and McQuary asked for the gag order “to be able to convey to the media and the public that we will perform our duties and at the appropriate time, our investigatory file will be open to the public.
“Until that time, we will not be making any comments or interviews concerning this investigation,” Barrett said in the letter. “This matter is one that has garnered the attention of numerous individuals and agencies and must be handled professionally without the distractions of inquiries, innuendo and misleading information coming from sources who were not there and do not know the facts.
“Once this investigation is complete, it will be made ‘open’ to the public,” Barrett said in the letter. “Mr. Isadore and the Pine Bluff Police Department as well as the public deserve this respect.”
Pine Bluff Police conducted two separate investigations into the death, one of a criminal nature, the second to determine if department policy was followed, and turned over the case files to Hunter on Wednesday afternoon.
One police officer who has not been identified remains on administrative leave with pay in connection with the death.
A request by Hunter to have the Arkansas State Police investigate the death was rejected Wednesday by Maj. Henry LaMar, commander of the ASP’s Criminal Investigation Division.
Funeral services for Isadore will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church.