Lawyer: Video doesn't justify shooting of student
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A lawyer for the family of an Alabama college student killed by university police said Thursday a surveillance video of his death doesn't justify the shooting.
Jere Beasley described the videotaped death of University of South Alabama freshman Gil Collar during a news conference attended by the student's parents.
"I can tell you without reservation nothing we saw in the videotape justified the use of deadly force in this case," said Beasley, a former Alabama lieutenant governor.
Beasley said his chief investigator and one of his lawyers who is a former police officer were shown the tape Wednesday by the Mobile County Sheriff's Department.
The video shows Collar never got closer to the officer than 4 feet and didn't try to grab his weapon, said Beasley. But, Beasley said, Collar and the officer move out of the camera's view before Collar was shot in the chest.
Beasley said the officer came outside the police station with his gun drawn and shot Collar no more than 30 seconds later. He said a radio dispatcher came out of the station at the beginning of the tape and then returned inside to call backup. Another officer arrived seconds after the shooting.
"I have seen nothing to indicate to me that you ought to go out there with a raised gun against a guy who's buck naked, unarmed and in distress," he said.
He said the officer was not carrying a baton or pepper spray, even though university officials have said officers typically carry both besides a gun.
Authorities say Collar had taken LSD and threatened the officer. Beasley said forensic scientists have not completed a toxicology report on drug use.
He said the video does not contain audio, but it was obvious Collar and the officer were talking.
"The fact that he came to the police station indicates that he was not necessarily looking for trouble. In fact, I think he was looking for help," Beasley said.
Collar's parents, Reed and Bonnie Collar, accompanied Beasley to the news conference, but did not comment. The sat in chairs, holding hands, bowing their heads and nodding occasionally. Beasley said they have been praying for the officer, but hold the university accountable for training its officers properly.
Beasley said his law firm will complete its investigation before the family makes a decision about whether to sue the university, but the family's ultimate goal is to make sure policies are in place to keep the same thing from happening to another student.