Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Louisiana Attorney General takes Homer, La.-Bernard Monroe CaseClaiborne DA Recuses Office

Monday January 18, 2010
The eighth annual Martin Luther King Day Noon Ecumenical Observance will be noon Monday in the Ruston Civic Center.
This service follows the annual Martin Luther King Unity March and parade that will start at 11 a.m. at Louisiana Tech's Thomas Assembly Center, where marchers will meet at 10:45 a.m. The event is coordinated by the office of multicultural affairs at Louisiana Tech and produced by a committee of students, faculty, staff and local residents. The keynote speaker will be the Rev. Carmelita Pope Freeman, regional community relations director for the U.S. Justice Department and an ordained elder in the CME 4th Episcopal District.

Grand Jury to hear Racially Charged Case| Homer investigation moves forward| "What other choice do we have"|
December 10, 2009
Monroe case sent to Attorney General
Stewart recuses office from shooting investigation Dees & Claiborne NAACP Reps

MICHELLE BATES, Editor

Claiborne Parish District Attorney Jonathan Stewart has recused his office from any further involvement in the February shooting death of 73-year-old Bernard Monroe Sr.

In a press conference held Wednesday, December 2, Stewart addressed the case, saying he was sending it to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, citing conflicts of interest for his office.

“After the order of recusal is signed, my office will have no further involvement with this case,” Stewart said, “other than to turn over the entire file and investigative materials to the attorney general, which will occur at some point in time next week.”

He cited two reasons for bowing out. One, he said, is that both former Homer police officers involved in the case – Timon Cox and Joseph Henry – are witnesses in pending criminal cases, which have not been resolved. Second, he said it would put his office and the officers in a “difficult position.”

Monroe was shot and killed by Cox on Friday, February 20, in the front yard of his home. According to police, the officers were pursuing Monroe’s son, Sean. The foot pursuit ended in Monroe’s front yard where Cox allegedly chased the younger Monroe out of the house.

Initial reports say Monroe was shot when he allegedly engaged the two officers with a loaded handgun. Witnesses, family members and friends say Monroe did not have a gun in his possession at the time of the shooting.

Stewart refused to answer any questions regarding what is in the final report turned in by the state police.

“I do not want to prejudice how the attorney general presents it, and I also do not want to prejudice anybody that might be on the grand jury,” Stewart said.

Stewart said the attorney general’s office will convene a grand jury from Claiborne Parish in January 2010 in order to make a decision on whether to pursue criminal charges or not.

“I have spoken with the attorney general several times over the last month, and he has agreed to give the case his personal attention,” the district attorney said.

In the wake of the shooting, the Monroe family hired Southern Poverty Law Center heavyweight Morris Dees to represent them.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit organization, and was founded as a small civil rights law firm in 1971, according to their website, www.splcenter.com.

Along with Georgia Norton, Monroe’s sister-in-law, Dees made it clear that the Monroe family wants to see justice.

“This family has suffered greatly to have their loved one shot to death in their presence, inside their house, by a police officer who had absolutely no legal rights to be in this home,” Dees said. “We have been very patient – the lawyers, the family has been more than patient. At this point, we put our faith in the grand jury and this community, and we’ll have to wait and see what happens. As the late Dr. Martin Luther King says, ‘The moral arc of justice is long, but it bends towards fairness in the end,’ and we hope that’s what we’ll see in this case.”

Asked if a civil suit would be filed, he said they would wait and see.

“We’re going to make that decision with the family and we’ll be discussing what they ought to do,” he said. “You can be assured that the facts of this case are going to come out, whether in a criminal case or in a civil case.”

Homer Town Attorney Jim Colvin said, “We’ll represent and defend the town as best we can, and we look forward to the conclusion to this investigation. As a citizen of this town and as town attorney, I look forward to the conclusion of this investigation. If there is a civil case, we’ll do our best to represent the town’s interest based on the facts revealed in the investigation to come.”

Norton spoke on behalf of the family, saying that Monroe’s widow is doing as well as can be expected.

“We’re okay,” she said, “and we’re hoping for the same thing that our attorney is – that this be fair and justice is fairly done.”

Terry Willis, communications director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), repeated her sentiments, saying he hopes the case is handled in a “very expeditious manner.”

“We need this resolved so that our community can begin to heal and that justice will be served no matter what the outcome,” Willis said.

When asked if he thought the case would go to trial, he said, “Hopefully not.”

And if the officers are cleared of wrong doing?

“We’ll just have to cross that bridge when we get to it, no matter the outcome,” he responded. “This is a ‘catch 22’ for this community, for this department and our local government. We will have to settle and deal with the circumstances whatever they may be.”

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