Why did 107-year-old Monroe Isadore die?By Nisa Islam Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Oct 2, 2013 - 10:03:17 AM
Those and more questions are being asked by the Black community in Pine Bluff, Ark., after the fatal shooting of Monroe Isadore by the city’ SWAT Team. The deadly encounter is now the subject of a special investigation. The Final Call was unable to obtain information about timelines for concluding the special investigation as the office would not return phone calls.
Special prosecutor Jason Barrett and special deputy prosecutor Jack McQuary were appointed to investigate the possibility of excessive use of force by police.
Mr. Barrett said in a statement that neither he nor Mr. McQuary would talk publicly about the investigation.
“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,” Mr. Barrett said in the statement.
“Once this investigation is complete, it will be made ‘open’ to the public. Mr. Isadore and the Pine Bluff Police Department as well as the public deserve this respect.”
But the community remains in an uproar over the Sept. 7 incident.
“Mr. Isadore, who was 107-years-old and legally blind, has been described by many as a God-fearing man. Since his death, several published articles painted Mr. Isadore in an unfavorable light, community organizer Donald Muhammad told The Final Call.
“The many unanswered questions surrounding the death of Arkansas’ oldest resident has led to great deal of frustration,” said Mr. Muhammad, who is part of the Nation of Islam Study Group in Pine Bluff. State police, the prosecutor, and local police chief decline to touch the case not wanting to “breach their working relationship,” he said
“The special prosecutor has said that he won’t release the full report of what happened until the passion dies down in the community. We think when that happens it will just be labeled a justifiable homicide,” said Seana Howard, who is planning a memorial for Mr. Isadore.
“We are not stopping our push to find out what happened. We’re having a press conference, another town hall meeting and we’ve reached out to other civil rights groups to help us,” she told The Final Call.
“I don’t think the Pine Bluff Police Department exercised all of their options. They violated their own departmental policies. They can use a tazer on an armed subject. They never used a tazer. They’d rather use bullets on a 107-year-old man. They has a zeal to kill,” community activist Jack Foster told The Final Call.
“It could have been avoided, it should have been avoided. They should have waited him out. That would have been better than killing him,” Mr. Foster added.
The police were able to get Ms. Barlow and the granddaughter out of the house and safely across the street. They then attempted to make contact with Mr. Isadore.
The police statement claims: “S.W.A.T. inserted gas into the room, after it was evident negotiations were unsuccessful, in hopes Isadore would surrender peacefully. When the gas was inserted into the room, Isadore fired rounds at the S.W.A.T. officers that had inserted the gas from outside a bedroom window.”
“Shortly afterwards, a S.W.A.T. entry team, inside the residence, breached the door to the bedroom and threw a distraction device into the bedroom. Isadore then began to fire on the entry team and the entry team engaged Isadore, killing him.”
The community and his family responded with outrage that the police would kill such an elderly man.
“I read the police report,” Tyrone Lightfoot, Mr. Isadore’s grandson told The Final Call. “Everyone was safe. Why would you shoot him? He’s 107-years-old. You had cameras on him. Why would you shoot him? Why send a White negotiator to deal with him? He told me so many slave stories. He doesn’t deal with White people,” said the grandson.
“It was an unjustified killing. Police were flagged down to help, not to kill him. The police chief should be fired and the mayor. I couldn’t believe it when my cousin Michelle called me at work to say that my grandfather was murdered by the police,” he said.
About 150 people crowded a town hall meeting Sept. 9 to voice their concerns and anger at the shooting. Police maintain their actions were justified because Mr. Isadore fired on officers and officers responded.
“Why didn’t they tell police that my grandfather couldn’t hear?” asked Renee Foster, Mr. Isadore’s granddaughter at the town hall meeting. “If they knew he was hard of hearing, he would have made it to 108.”