Monday, December 28, 2009

Rockford, IL: Police Deadly Force OK’D in Illinois Daycare Shooting

Grand Jury Returns” No indictment”

Last Updated Dec 2009
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By AFRO Staff

In this September 3 file photo, a photograph of Mark Anthony Barmore sits among flowers next to his casket at his funeral at Kingdom Authority International Ministries in Rockford, Ill. Barmore, 23, was fatally shot by two police officers inside a church-run daycare filled with children on August 24. (AP Photo)
(December 27, 2009) - The NAACP, Rev. Jesse Jackson and the family of a victim fatally shot by police are fighting against a Winnebago County, Illinois grand jury’s decision to exonerate the police action in the August 24 fatal shooting of Mark Anthony Barmore.

Barmore was chased by police into a daycare center in a church basement and shot by two police officers, though he was unarmed. The police pursued Barmore in connection with a domestic dispute involving his girlfriend.

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato announced the grand jury’s decision at 10 p.m. on Dec. 23, according to local TV station WREX, and said the grand jury’s findings were consistent with the findings of the Illinois State Police’s investigation and that of the Rockford Police Department, where the officers involved are employed.

But civil rights leaders question several things about the grand jury’s evaluation, including the timing of its decision, just two days before Christmas, when the only two eyewitnesses to the shooting besides the officers involved were unavailable. As a result, the grand jury didn’t hear their testimony.

According to WREX and the Rockford Register Star, local officials said those witnesses – Sheila Brown, director of the day care center, and her daughter Marissa Brown, 17 – did not give accounts consistent with the physical evidence of the crime and would not speak to the state police during their investigation.

But those statements are countered by Pastor Melvin Brown, Sheila’s husband. According to the Rockford Register Star, Brown said that two interviews with the state police had been cancelled by the police, and that his family’s subpoena for the grand jury arrived only six days before they were to appear. He said they had not been informed that a grand jury might be convened and at the time the subpoena was received, there was no way to change or cancel a holiday trip.

“To make it December 23, the day before Christmas Eve, is more like manipulation than truth," said Rev. Jackson during a press conference on December 26. “We can live with a fair outcome, but you must have all the ingredients to have a fair outcome.”

The NAACP, in a December 24 statement, said, “The Rockford, Illinois Branch of NAACP, along with community leaders, faith leaders and concerned citizens in the State of Illinois, have formed a coalition which is calling for an independent investigation by the US Department of Justice through the US Attorney General for the Northern District of Illinois into the incident.”

“It is a sad day in this country when two police officers with guns drawn can charge into a church daycare center, terrorize children and staff and fatally shoot an unarmed man in the back with impunity,” Benjamin Jealous, NAACP president and CEO, said in the December 24 statement.

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