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Friday, December 7, 2012

LRPD officer says Ellison shooting didn't warrant 'deadly force'

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 9:57 AM

Laux, with Ellisons sons at a 2011 press conference
  • Laux, with Ellison's sons at a 2011 press conference
The Dec. 2010 case of a 67-year-old Little Rock resident Eugene Ellison, who was gunned down by a Little Rock Police Officer after an altercation in Ellison's apartment, has jumped the pond, with the British newspaper The Guardian reporting that another officer on the scene said during depositions for a federal civil rights lawsuit over the shooting that he didn't believe deadly force was required.

LRPD Officer Vincent Lucio, one of four officers on the scene when Ellison was shot twice by Officer Donna Lesher, told Ellison family attorney Michael J. Laux that he didn't believe Ellison was threatening the officers in a way that constituted "deadly force," and said he didn't think shooting was necessary to subdue Ellison.

Ellison began struggling with Lesher and her partner Officer Tabitha McCrillis after the two came upon Ellison's open door while working off-duty security at the Big Country Chateau Apartments near University Ave. and went inside to investigate. At the time he was killed, Ellison was armed only with a walking cane, and was apparently shot while Lesher was standing on the balcony outside Ellison's apartment with three other officers, including Lucio.

From The Guardian story:

Asked whether he felt "deadly force" was being threatened by Ellison when he arrived, Lucio said: "Not to me at that time."

Laux: "And you didn't think — you never saw deadly force being threatened while you were there. Is what I said true?

Lucio: "Correct."

In the interview with Laux, Lucio agreed that all four officers could have "walked away" from Ellison's home at that point. Asked by Laux: "Once Donna Lesher was out of the apartment, all four of you could have walked away. Is that a fair statement?"

Lucio replied: "Yes".

Laux: "Once Donna Lesher was out of the apartment, all four of you could have moved to a location and conferred with each other and decided a means to handle the situation. Correct?"

Lucio: "Correct."

Laux: " And you could have, for instance, decided that you were going to group tackle him. Correct?"

Lucio: "Correct."

Lucio's testimony is not the only evidence that Lesher might not be the most thoughtful and introspective person in the world when it comes to bringing her police powers to bear. As seen in our Arkansas Times Insider column this week, during her own deposition in the Ellison case, Lesher unflinchingly told Laux that her first response to a citizen closing a door in her face would be to call in the LRPD S.W.A.T. team.

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