Washington Post examines Little Rock police killing | Arkansas Blog

Friday, May 6, 2016

Washington Post examines Little Rock police killing

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2016 at 9:51 AM

click to enlarge OFFICERS INVOLVED IN SHOOTING:Donna Lesher (left) and Tabitha McCrillis - LRPD VIA WASHINGTON POST
  • LRPD via Washington Post
  • OFFICERS INVOLVED IN SHOOTING:Donna Lesher (left) and Tabitha McCrillis

The fatal shooting of Eugene Ellison, 67, in his apartment by Little Rock police working as private security is examined today by the Washington Post.

A lawsuit over the killing is heading to trial Monday. The police say deadly force was used because Ellison became combative after they entered his apartment, unbidden, through an open door and he raised a cane at an officer. The case doesn't present a pretty picture of Little Rock to the outside review:

Five years later, the tragic death of Eugene Ellison still haunts Little Rock, splitting the city and its 540-officer police department along racial lines. It shows what can happen when police investigate their own in cases of fatal shootings and end up with results that leave little resolved in the minds of the public. Allegations of favoritism, collusion, conflicts of interest and special treatment have hovered over the case from the beginning, according to interviews, court records and previously undisclosed internal affairs files obtained by The Washington Post.
The article notes relationships on both sides of the equation. Ellison was the father of two Little Rock police officers. Officer Donna Lesher, who fired the fatal shot while working with Tabitha McCrillis, is married to a homicide detective who was supervisor of officers who investigated the shooting.

The article arises from the Post's ongoing work on police-involved shootings, particularly those with racial aspects, as in the Ellison shooting. Ellison is black; the officers white. The officers not only were cleared of criminal wrongdoing, no action was taken against them after an internal affairs review. The federal Justice Department also found insufficient evidence to pursue a civil rights case.

The article notes differences of opinion among homicide detectives — split on racial lines — on whether the department should investigate its own in such a case.

“That’s like having to investigate your boss’ wife,” Sgt. Jonathan C. White, another Little Rock homicide detective who is black, said in a sworn statement after the shooting. “It’s just an uncomfortable position all the way around to put everybody in an uncomfortable position. Not only myself. And that’s why I think that — to me that’s the very reason it should have went out of house immediately, so that we wouldn’t have been put in that position.”

Several other detectives on the case — about a dozen worked on it in total — said they were comfortable with how it was conducted.
The article reports Lesher's spotty record and the fact that future chief Stuart Thomas had argued against her hiring.

The recitation of the shooting is gripping. Four officers are outside the apartment when Lesher fires inside the apartment at Ellison, who is holding a cane.

The article quotes from sworn testimony already taken in the case:

In one of those statements, Laux asked Donna Lesher whether she could have left Ellison’s apartment without shooting him.

“Certainly in the second before you shot Mr. Ellison you could have — you could have walked away. Correct?”

“Yes,” Lesher said.

Laux also questioned Lucio, one of the backup officers.

“I did not fear him,” Lucio said.

“You did not have a fear of deadly force from Mr. Ellison when you got there, did you?” Laux asked.

“No, I did not.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • The long and winding road: No exception yet for 30 Crossing

    The Arkansas highway department's representative on the Metroplan board of directors told the board today that the department is requesting an exception to the planning agency's cap on six lanes for its 30 Crossing project to widen Interstate 30 from six to 10 (and more) lanes.
    • Jun 29, 2016
  • Mitch Landrieu on the removal of Confederate tributes in New Orleans

    You want to hear the words of a strong mayor? Read the speech delivered by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on the removal of the last of four Lost Cause tributes in the city. THIS is a strong mayor. Brilliant.
    • May 22, 2017
  • Deputy killed, police chief wounded in Sebastian County. Suspect in custody

    40/29 TV reports that two law officers were shot about 7 a.m. today near Hackett in Sebastian County and at mid-afternoon came word that one of them had died. Later in the day a suspect was taken into custody in the shooting.
    • Aug 10, 2016

Most Shared

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The Truth is Out There Open Line

    • Here's how one person responded to the CDC 7 words-- "As a proud transgender American…

    • on December 17, 2017
  • Re: Campus carry rules approved

    • Pscyclepath, I read Kate's comment "has yet stopped" as meaning "has not prevented" a mass…

    • on December 16, 2017
  • Re: The Truth is Out There Open Line

    • Great cold open on SNL with Trump, Kelly Ann, Sarah Shuckabee Sanders, Ivanka, the Trump…

    • on December 16, 2017



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation