Nation of Islam Raises Money to Appeal Henderson decision: Monroe Police Shot Black Man 17 times in the Back
From [HERE] The Nation of Islam’s local study group is asking the community help to raise funds to appeal a decision last week that absolved the city of Monroe and five police officers of any fault in the 2004 shooting death of William Henderson.
At a press conference Sunday at the Nation of Islam Study Group Center on Renwick Street, Verbon Muhammad, spokesman for the group said the children of William Henderson were done a disservice by the court ruling and he pledged that the Nation of Islam would lead a finance drive to appeal the decision to the next level.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Scott Leehy made his decision last Friday in a civil case filed by the family of William Mark Henderson against the Monroe Police Department. Leehy stated in his reason for judgment that Henderson’s death was violent and a true tragedy for the Henderson family, friends and community. He determined that the officers’ conduct in the case was reasonable, and he said he hoped it never happened in the city again.
The incident happened in 2004 when William Henderson was seen by a passerby walking with a chain and a pocket knife talking to himself. Nine police officers arrived on the scene and followed Henderson for about the length of a football field, shouting at him to drop the knife. Henderson ignored them and walked away from the officers toward his house spouting insults and claiming that he was “invisible” and could not be seen.
While he was walking away an officer shot him with a shotgun beanbag. Henderson rose again, still holding the pocket knife with his back to police officers, according to court testimony. A few minutes later, after ignoring shouts to drop the pocket knife police opened fire on him, knocking him against a fence. According to court testimony Henderson fell on a fence which spring boarded him back up. When he sprung up police shot him with another volley of shots. According to court testimony a total of 29 shots were fired at Henderson, 17 hit him and at least four of the 17 were in the back. According to court witnesses Henderson never lunged at or attacked police but might have appeared to be lunging when he was spring boarded off the fence. Henderson’s children claimed that firing 29 shots at their father was excessive. Judge Leehy ruled that the police officer’s actions were not unreasonable.
Muhammad said the fact that Judge Leehy has ordered the family to pay the city’s expenses is unconscionable.
In 2004, Muhammad and the Nation of Islam was the first to respond to the incident. It called a community meeting at the Johnson Recreation Center where then Senator Charles Jones referred to the incident as a “Killing.” He took issue with Mayor Jamie Mayo’s initial characterization of the incident as an “accident.”
City Attorney Nanci Summersgill now has to prepare a judgment in the case during the next 15 days.
The U.S. Department of Justice cleared the Monroe Police Department of possible civil rights violations in regards to the shooting in 2005. That same year, a Ouachita Parish grand jury declined criminal charges against the five officers who shot at Henderson.
“We will not accept this ruling,” Muhammad said. “We want to send a message to the black community that we will fight this Muhammad said.