02/14/2010

SPLC Sues Homer, La., and Former Police Officers in Fatal Shooting of Elderly Black Man

The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed suit against the town of Homer, La., and two of its former police officers on behalf of the family of an elderly black man who was shot to death by one of the officers while standing harmlessly on his front porch.

The lawsuit alleges that the officers, Tim Cox and Joseph Henry, both white, created a volatile situation when they came onto Bernard Monroe Sr.'s property during a family gathering there on Feb. 20, 2009. Cox and Henry chased Monroe's son, "unlawfully and without just cause," into the family home, and Henry shot him in the back with a Taser gun. The son was not wanted for any crime, and he was not arrested.

As Monroe was climbing his porch stairs to check on his elderly wife, Cox, without warning, shot the 73-year-old man several times through the screen door from inside the house, the lawsuit says. Monroe, who had lost his voice to cancer, was unable to speak during the incident.

"Terrified by the gunshots and fearful for her family, Louis M. Monroe immediately came out of the house and onto the porch where she saw her husband, while he was alive, lying on the sidewalk bleeding," the lawsuit says.

A Claiborne Parish grand jury failed to issue an indictment in the case this past February, meaning there will not be a criminal trial in state court. The SPLC's civil lawsuit, filed in state court in Claiborne Parish, seeks damages for the wrongful death of Monroe and the emotional distress suffered by his family members. 

Cox was a recently hired police officer at the time of the shooting. The lawsuit says that Henry, acting as the senior officer, failed to de-escalate the situation and, in fact, made matters worse.

"Henry and Cox continued to inflame the situation despite the foreseeable high risk that someone would get injured," the lawsuit says. 

Homer is a town of about 3,800 people, located about 50 miles northeast of Shreveport. 

 

Bernard and Louise Monroe

Bernard Monroe and his wife Louise had five children, 18 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.