The children of William Henderson are not waiting for a grand jury to decide whether or not a crime was committed in the death of their father. Wednesday, they filed a civil suit in Fourth District Court accusing the City of Monroe of negligence.
Monica Bruce, on behalf of the five minor children of William Henderson, filed suit Wednesday saying that the City of Monroe failed to properly train its officers how to deal with the mentally ill, resulting in the death of Henderson.
William Henderson was killed in August by unnamed members of the Monroe Police Department, who shot him, according to the lawsuit over 17 times in several volleys.
The Administration has chosen on its own volition to hide the names of the officers involved, although no state law or city ordinance requires their names to be protected.
Without the names of the officers, Bruce filed suit against Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, Chief Ron Schleuter and ten officers listed as John Doe 1-10.
According to the suit, ôOn August 24, 2004 John Does 1-10, in their official individual capacities as police officers for the Monroe Police Department, acting under color of authority as police officers of the City of Monroe, intentionally shot and killed Henderson within the city limits of Monroe (the shooting) thereby inflicting cruel and unusual punishment, serious bodily injury pain and suffering and death on Henderson.
The suit continued:
ôAt the time of the shooting, Henderson was unarmed and walking away from the Monroe City Police officer defendants in a non-threatening manner in an alley between 8th and 9th streets within the city limits of Monroe, La.
æAt the time of the shooting of Henderson by the Monroe Police Officer defendants, Henderson was walking in a grassy alley located between opposite facing hurricane fences, which fences enclose the back yards of residents on 8th and 9th streets within the city limits of Monroe, La.
Upon information and belief, at least five of the Monroe City Police officer defendants shot Henderson, using maximum deadly force, at point blank range from behind the safety of the fence in the back yard of a home located on 8th street within the city limits of Monroe, La.
ôUpon information and belief, the Monroe City Police Officer defendants fired a volley of bullets, striking Henderson numerous times.
ôUpon information and belief, when Henderson failed to fall to the ground after the first volley, the Monroe City Police officer defendants fired a second volley.
“Henderson was struck not less than 17 times in the two hales of bullets by the Monroe City Police officer defendants.
“Other bullets from the two hales of bullets fired by the Monroe City Police Officer defendants’ weapons lodged in a wall inside a home on 8th street, as well in a tree in the backyard of the same house.
“On information and belief, at the time of the shooting, Henderson was not under investigation by the Monroe Police officer defendants for the commission of any crime or tamped crime and the Monroe City Police Officer Defendants lacked any probable cause to believe Henderson had committed or was committing a crime.
“On information and belief, at the time of the shooting, the Monroe City Police officer defendants possessed no outstanding warrants for the arrest or detention of Henderson.ö
The Henderson’s Suit Claims Mayo, Schleuter liable
The suit claims Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo and Chief Schleuter were liable for HendersonÆs death because they failed to:
ùEstablish procedures and train officers in the proper and legal use of deadly force and less than deadly force.
ùEstablish procedures and training for dealing with non-violent mentally ill persons by means other than deadly force.
While Mayo and Schleuter have slammed the blue wall of silence on the Henderson killing, the lawsuit opens the door to ôdiscoveryö a legal term which will give the Henderson family access to documents, testimony, investigation results and the names of the men who killed their father.
The suit seeks compensation for the Henderson children and their mother, Monica Bruce for emotional and financial loss due as a result of the killing. The amount is not specified.
Mayo has told the public that those who are supporting the Henderson family are only trying to discredit his administration. He says the case has been turned over to the District Attorney for review.
The officers remain on paid leave and will remain so until the judicial process is exhausted, according to the Mayo administration.
Members of the Coalition for Justice and Equality have called upon the administration to come clean with the Henderson family and help resolve the death by at least providing access to reports and public documents relating to the case. It says the judicial process could take as long as two years.
Mayor Jamie Mayo Responds to Suit
In a press release on Wednesday, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo responded to Henderson’s suit.
“The Henderson shooting was an unfortunate incident and our sympathy goes out to the family of William Mark Henderson. It is the policy of our Legal Department to not make comments relative to pending litigation. We have not had a chance to review the lawsuit, because, as of this morning, we have not received a copy (we received notification from the press). This matter is in the hands of the District Attorney and a Grand Jury will determine if any wrongdoing has taken place. This is being done to ensure fairness and justice for all parties involved in this case. We have done our best to communicate this entire process to the public. If the officers involved in the Henderson shooting are found to have done anything wrong, they will be disciplined by the City of Monroe. We will have no further comments until the Grand Jury has reached its decision,” Mayo said.