Lawyers for a Rockford, Illinois man fatally shot by police this summer at a daycare facility are now calling for the Department of Justice to investigate his death.
Witnesses say that 23-year-old Mark Barmore was exiting a storage area at the House of Grace Daycare under orders from police, with hands raised and without a weapon, when he was shot in the neck on Aug. 24. He fell to the ground and was shot three times in the back at point blank range, according to a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of Barmore’s family.
Police said they were taking Barmore into custody on a warrant issued for his failure to appear in court on felony probation violations and for questioning on domestic violence complaints. Authorities have previously said that the shooting happened as a result of a struggle with Barmore, however, there has been no release of an official account of the incident, lawyers said.
Witnesses say Barmore walked into the church daycare center and had casual conversations with several people before police officers Oda Poole and Stan North came to the door with guns drawn.
The officers proceeded through the center looking into rooms, still with their guns drawn.
When the officers determined he was in the storage unit, the officers kicked the door open and ordered Barmore out, witnesses said.
More than two months have passed since Barmore’s death, and John Fitzgerald Lyke, one of the attorneys in the case, said the family still has not been given details.
“We want everyone to write letters to Atty. General Eric Holder urging that the Department of Justice investigate this,” Lyke told BlackAmericaWeb.com.
Lyke said he wants the federal government to look into the shooting and the handling of witnesses in the case.
“They treated the witnesses as if they were suspects, trying to force get them to change their stories, That’s altering justice,” said Lyke, a former Cook County prosecutor.
The lawsuit, filed in October, is an attempt by the family to get answers in an incident that has prompted marches and stirred racial tensions in the city about 90 miles northwest of Chicago, Lyke said.
Another lawsuit was filed in federal court about two weeks ago by Kingdom Authority Church, House of Grace and parents of children who were present at the time of the incident, according to the Rockford Register Star. That lawsuit claims that the shooting of Barmore was reckless and put the health and safety of 10 children at the daycare center at risk, according to the Register Star’s report.
Attempts by BlackAmericaWeb.com to reach officials with the Rockford Police Department were unsuccessful.
The Department earlier released a statement in response to the filing of the family’s lawsuit.
“The facts and circumstances of the incident remain under investigation by the Winnebago County State’s Attorney and the Illinois State Police, working with members of the Cook County Public Integrity Unit,” the statement read. “The City has also retained Independent Assessment and Monitoring, a California consulting firm specializing in use of force investigations and analysis to assist the City in its administrative review of the incident.
“The City is committed to a fair process to all involved in the matter and will respond to the allegations contained in the lawsuit in the appropriate forum. No further statements will be issued on these matters at this time in deference to the ongoing investigation.”
Larry R. Rogers Jr., another attorney on the case, said, “The physical evidence doesn’t lie. Mark Barmore had no weapon, no where to run, and he was in a church daycare center. Yet he has three large-caliber, police-issued bullet wounds in his back.”
NAACP President Benjamin Jealous urged the city of Rockford …..toestablish a civilian review board and offer grief counseling after Barmore was fatally shot at the daycare where children were present.
“We area all human. We want to make sure each officer feels empowered to use all of his or her moral authority to not use deadly force,” Jealous said. “We had children in the church, at school in the church, and in an instant, they had two of those safe places taken away from them.”
Lyke said reports of an investigation have been slow because the shooting death involves police officers.
“No findings have been reported and no findings have been made and the investigation is on going,” Lyke said. “Why?”