LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A special prosecutor was ordered Thursday to review the shooting death of a 107-year-old Arkansas man killed by police officers in last weekend's standoff after state police said they wouldn't investigate the case.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Berlin C. Jones approved County Prosecutor Kyle Hunter's request to recuse from the case surrounding the death of Monroe Isadore in Pine Bluff on Saturday.
Authorities have said they tried using a camera, negotiating tactics and gas before shooting Isadore. But his death has prompted questions from residents and some leaders in Pine Bluff, a community of about 50,000 people about 45 miles southeast of Little Rock.
Pine Bluff police said Wednesday they had forwarded the case to Hunter's office. Hunter didn't immediately return a call for comment, but in a court motion cited his close working relationship with the Pine Bluff department as a reason for recusal. Hunter wrote he believed a special prosecutor would "allow someone from outside our county to review and make the necessary decisions in this case."
Bob McMahan, the state prosecutor coordinator, did not immediately return a call Thursday.
State Police released a letter Thursday they had sent to Hunter declining his request to investigate the case. In it, Criminal Investigation Division Commander Maj. Henry La Mar wrote that Hunter's request to investigate the incident from the initial 911 call to Isadore's death went beyond its typical deadly force investigations. He also cited the amount of time that had lapsed between the shooting and the prosecutor's request for an outside probe.
"Any attempt now to reassemble a crime scene, gather impartial statements from officers and witnesses who are already on record in the local investigation, and collect physical evidence that has been processed within a local chain of custody amount to a style of investigation far outside accepted and sound law enforcement practices," La Mar wrote in the letter, dated Wednesday.
Hunter wrote Thursday that he was disappointed in the state police's decision.
"I felt it was important for all concerned that another agency be involved in the investigation of this incident," he wrote.
Members of the Pine Bluff City Council had sent a separate request to state police to investigate the case.
Laurie Barlow told officers she had gone to the house where Isadore was living temporarily to help him move to a new home Saturday, according to a police report. She said Isadore had previously been excited about the move but that when she arrived, Isadore barricaded himself in a room.
Police said that Isadore's granddaughter eventually got him to open the door, but he pointed a gun at her.
Police said after officers moved Barlow and the granddaughter across the street, Isadore fired at a door. A SWAT team was called out when negotiations failed and maneuvered a camera into the house to see how Isadore was armed. The team then stormed inside after deploying gas and a distraction device, the report said. When Isadore fired, the entry team fired back.
Police have said an officer involved in the weekend shooting has been placed on paid administrative leave.
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