The Alabama State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) with the family of Michael McIntyre, a young black man who was shot and killed after being gunned down five times in the back by Tallassee, Alabama Police on December 29th, is calling for the Department of Justice and FBI to conduct a thorough investigation into their son’s death. Tallassee is a small rural town in eastern Alabama with a population of 5000 and a racial makeup of 80 percent white and 18 percent black.
News reports stated that the Tallassee police was serving a warrant at an apartment where Michael was visiting a friend. Michael did not have any warrants for his arrest, nor were the police looking for him. Witnesses reported that they observed police officers chasing Michael, the lead officer having a gun in his hand and that they did not observe Michael having a gun or threatening the police with a weapon as he ran from them. The police attempted to taze Michael and then shot him in the back as he was running away from them. The Alabama Bureau of Investigation reported to the family that police’s first shot landed in Michael’s upper left back, the second shot went directly into his spine, the third into his left buttock , the fourth shot went into his aortic valve, and the last shot landed in his upper left buttocks.
Reports stated that the police claimed that Michael McIntyre had produced a pistol as he was running away from the police and a gun was later found by the scene. However, the family emphasized that witnesses they interviewed never observed Michael with a gun as he was being chased by the police, and that witnesses also reported that they observed the police back a white SUV up to Michael’s body and carry something from the back of the SUV towards the body immediately after the shooting.
An investigation was conducted into the shooting by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. The family expressed concern that the District Attorney had already scheduled the grand jury hearing for February 19th, only seven weeks after the shooting had taken place, and had been scheduled even though the ABI had not completed the investigation by the middle of that same week. The Grand Jury failed to indict the responsible police officer as a result of the evidence presented by Randall Houston, District Attorney. The family of Michael McIntyre expressed their concern as to the investigation and grand jury proceeding: “It seemed as if the District Attorney was in a rush to acquit the officer before the investigation had even been concluded,” said one member of the McIntyre family.
This was not Michael McIntyre’s first experience with police violence. Only a few years earlier as a teenager, he had been a victim of police brutality from the Tallassee Police Department which resulted in the officer being disciplined for police misconduct and the police department settling a civil lawsuit that was brought against them.
In Tennessee v. Garner, the United States Supreme Court ruled that under the Fourth Amendment, when the police are pursuing a fleeing suspect, they may only use deadly force to prevent escape if the officer has probably cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others. The family believes that neither was the situation in Michael’s case.
The family is calling upon the DOJ and FBI to conduct a further investigation into the death of their son, because the evidence showed that the police shot Michael five times in his backside as he was being chased down, and because witnesses observed that Michael did not threaten the police nor brandish the gun which later appeared by the body. Furthermore, the McIntyre family expressed alarm because neither the police, District Attorney, nor ABI would release the name of the officer who shot and killed their son. Michael McIntyre was a father and leaves behind two little daughters in addition to his mother, father, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
According to Alabama State Conference NAACP President Benard Simelton, the State Conference and the National NAACP are also looking into this incident to determine what actions should be taken. “We have too many of our young men being killed like animals and nothing is done…now is the time to speak and seek answers and justice. The NAACP is the oldest Civil Rights organization in the United States and has for decades fought for justice and equality under the law and protection of individuals civil rights, and we want to ensure justice is served in this situation.”
The Oinonen Law Group and Betts & Associates law firms of Atlanta, Georgia have been retained by the family to represent them in a civil rights suit. The family is now officially requesting an investigation by the DOJ and FBI into the killing of Michael McIntyre.