Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Your Black News: Shot 59 Times: What are the Facts?

Dad: Suicidal son shot 59 times by cops was

  • BILL POOVEY, Associated Press Writer

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (AP) -- Alonzo Heyward carried a rifle around his low-rent Chattanooga, Tennessee, neighborhood one day last month, ranting about suicide and ignoring the pleas of friends for hours before six city police officers surrounded him on his front porch and decided it had to end.

His father says Heyward told the officers, "I'm not out here to hurt anybody."

But the police, who tried unsuccessfully to disarm Heyward, fired 59 rounds to kill him on July 18. The medical examiner found 43 bullet wounds in his chest, face, arms, hands, legs, buttocks and groin. Police contend Heyward was a danger to others and threatened the six officers.

Chattanooga police spokeswoman Jerri Weary described the case as "suicide by cop."

As questions continue to surround the shooting, Heyward's family and civil rights leaders take issue with the police response. Heyward, a 32-year-old moving company employee, was black. The six officers are white. They were temporarily placed on administrative leave but have since returned to work.

"We have a large concern about the amount of shots fired," said Valoria Armstrong, president of the Chattanooga branch of the NAACP civil rights group.

A Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial cartoon asked "IS THIS EXCESSIVE FORCE?" -- spelling out the question with letters labeling the wounds in a drawing based on Heyward's autopsy report.

His father, James Marine, 61, does not believe Heyward really wanted to kill himself or that he was trying to commit "suicide by cop."

"He just needed somebody to talk to," Marine said. ... "I believe he was just depressed at that time."

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