LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The family of a 67-year-old man fatally shot by an off-duty Little Rock police officer in 2010 wants a new investigation into the shooting after a former police chief and a current assistant chief said in sworn depositions that investigators didn’t adequately consider an autopsy report.
The depositions obtained by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2ejfhaP ) were attached to a letter Michael Laux, an attorney for the family of Eugene Ellison, sent Friday to Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley asking for a new criminal investigation into the nearly 6-year-old shooting.
Jegley declined to comment.
The autopsy report says two bullets struck Ellison in the chest at downward angles, while Officer Donna Lesher had said Ellison was standing when she fired.
Ellison’s family says an accident reconstruction expert believes the downward angles contradict Lesher’s statement.
Lesher and off-duty officer Tabitha McCrillis were working as apartment complex security guards when Ellison was shot on Dec. 9, 2010.
Both were cleared of wrongdoing by Jegley’s office and the police department.
“He was not standing upright when he was shot, correct?” Laux asked former Police Chief Stuart Thomas in the August deposition.
“No, it does not appear so,” Thomas replied.
“It’s — it is an element that should have been considered, yes,” Thomas replied to Laux’s next question, about whether that would matter when ruling a shooting justified.
Assistant Chief Wayne Bewley said in his August deposition that he planned to re-examine the evidence after acknowledging investigators should have looked more closely at the autopsy report.
Current Police Chief Kenton Buckner said in an email Friday that there are no plans to reopen the investigation, but did not answer a question about whether he and Bewley had discussed the case.
Lesher and McCrillis said they encountered Ellison after noticing an open apartment door and investigating because it was cold. They said they found Ellison sitting on his couch near a broken glass-top table.
Ellison asked the officers to leave after they asked if he was OK, according to a police report.
Lesher told detectives that Ellison attacked them, but they broke free. Lesher then drew her gun, and said she shot Ellison after he came at her “in an aggressive manner holding (a cane) like a baseball bat,” according to her statement.
Ellison’s family in May settled a federal lawsuit against the city of Little Rock over the shooting for $900,000. The family also received an official apology from the city and a memorial bench bearing Ellison’s name.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com