The city of Little Rock today dedicated a memorial bench to Eugene Ellison, killed in a 2010 confrontation in his apartment with Little Rock police officers. The bench is in MacArthur Park, by the duck pond.
City Manager Bruce Moore and the Ellison family members took part. Family includes sons Troy and Spencer Ellison, one a current and one a former Little Rock police officer.
The bench includes a plaque with an inscription, “The Mark of the Educated Man.”
Ellison was killed by a shot fired from outside his apartment by one of two police officers working private security. They’d walked in an open door to check on him, they said. He threatened them with a cane, they said. The shooting was ruled justifiable, though the family’s attorney has asked for further criminal review by the prosecutor.
A civil suit over the shooting death was settled by the city for $900,000. The apartment complex owner also settled for an undisclosed amount. The settlement with the city included the memorial bench.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – You may remember a story that we brought to you in the case of 67-year old Eugene Ellison, who was shot and killed by two white off-duty Little Rock police officers.
The officers ended up being cleared of all charges, but before the case could go to federal court, the city agreed to settle a lawsuit. That lawsuit included a payout, a memorial bench, and an apology letter. In his honor, family and friends gathered to support and dedicate that promised bench on Friday.
One by one, his sons and city leaders highlighted moments shared with Mr. Ellison. Both sons said the support from the community means everything. A five-year journey finally ends with the last of the city’s promise.
Both sons said finding justice for their father and moving forward allows the healing process to continue. Spencer Ellison, son of Mr. Eugene Ellison, takes pride in making sure the community understands the purpose of the bench.
“We are here to remember, embrace and dedicate to a proud man that’s most deserving to be memorialized. We salute you, Mr. Eugene Edward Ellison,” Ellison said.
The bench is a few yards away from the MacArthur Military Museum. The family said this is the best place for it because of the amount of attention it receives from the public.
His son’s Troy and Spencer plan to be a source for those seeking justice, but most importantly they’ll offer themselves as servants to their community. Troy Ellison still works for the Little Rock police department.
The family of Eugene Ellison, the 67-year-old African-American man shot and killed by a Little Rock Police Department officer in Ellison’s apartment near the corner of Col. Glenn and University Ave. in Dec. 2010, held a press conference today to discuss yesterday’s announcement of a landmark settlement in the federal civil rights case arising from the shooting. The settlement will see the City of Little Rock pay $900,000 — an amount Ellison attorney Mike Laux said will swell to well over a million when combined with a settlement reached with Big Country Chateau Apartments, where Eugene Ellison lived — plus issue a formal apology. Under the terms of the agreement, the city will also pay to erect a memorial bench in a location chosen by Ellison’s sons.
On Dec. 9, 2010, LRPD officers Donna Lesher and Tabitha McCrillis were working off-duty security at Big Country Chateau when they noticed Eugene Ellison’s door ajar. According to their account, after going in to check on Ellison’s welfare, Ellison told them to leave and then became combative, struggling with Lesher and McCrillis them before Lesher shot him in the chest. At the time Lesher shot, she was on the balcony outside Ellison’s door, standing with McCrillis and two male officers who had arrived as backup. The Ellison family filed a federal lawsuit in the case in Oct. 2011, with the discovery phase uncovering many damning aspects of the investigation that followed the shooting, including that surveillance video from a camera pointed in the direction of Ellison’s door was mysteriously damaged while in LRPD custody, and deposition testimony from officers on the scene who said that Ellison didn’t appear to pose a threat to the lives of the officers at the time he was shot. The Washington Post reported on the case yesterday.
Laux, a Chicago attorney, appeared today with Eugene Ellison’s sons, Troy and Spencer Ellison, and attorneys Flint Taylor and Doris Cheng, who worked on the case. Laux, at times fighting back tears, said that he has come to love Spencer and Troy Ellison “like brothers,” and said they were very satisfied with the settlement. Laux said that Eugene Ellison was impugned by the Little Rock Police Department since day one, even though he was only sitting in his apartment, minding his own business, prior to McCrillis and Lesher entering and refusing to leave. Though he called the settlement historic, the largest ever paid in a civil rights case in the state’s history, he said the case was never been about money. “It’s always been about some modicum of accountability,” he said. The Ellison family couldn’t move on, Laux said, until an apology was made, but noted that in the years since the lawsuit was filed, LRPD use-of-force complaints have steadily dropped.
“When they know eyes are watching them, they’re more cautious,” Laux said. “People don’t get shot. People don’t die.”
Both Troy and Spencer Ellison addressed the crowd, with Troy, a Detective with the Little Rock Police Department, fighting back tears before saying: “The apology was something that was long waited for that we thought would never happen.”
Speaking after the press conference, Troy Ellison said that he plans to continue serving the city and department he fought in court over his father’s death since 2011. “Even based on everything that’s gone on in the last five years,” he said, “I still feel like I have a duty to continue what I’ve started. That’s my career with the police department. I enjoy what I do. I’ve always enjoyed what I do. And I don’t think anything or anyone should take that away from me. I still feel like I have a lot of good work ahead of me that I can do for this community.”
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text] An investigation of the shooting death of 67-year-old Eugene Ellison at the hands of a Little Rock police officer left his sons, including Little Rock police Lt. Troy Ellison, embittered, and with little resolved in the minds of the public. Troy Ellison was photographed at his father’s grave March 7. (Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]By Scott Higham and Kimbriell Kelly on May 6,2016 Written for the Washington Post[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]LITTLE ROCK — A wide-open door at the Big Country Chateau led off-duty police officer Donna Lesher to Eugene Ellison.
Lesher was moonlighting, patrolling the crime-ridden apartment complex on foot with a partner, another off-duty female officer. Lesher saw the door on the second floor of a spare, low-slung building. The officers were immediately suspicious. Who would leave their door open on a cold December evening?
The white officers climbed the stairs and saw Ellison, a 67-year-old black man, sitting on his couch inside. In front of him was a coffee table, its glass top broken.
Standing outside the apartment, they asked Ellison whether he was okay. Ellison said he was fine. The officers were not satisfied. Something still seemed odd to them. His shirt was unbuttoned, and he appeared to be shivering. They later said they thought that he might need help or that maybe a crime had been committed and someone else was in the apartment.
When they continued to question him, he grew angry.
“Get the f— out of my house,” he said.
Lesher’s partner, Detective Tabitha McCrillis, walked into the apartment and confronted him.
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ST. LOUIS, MO – Two officers with the Little Rock Police Department who were involved in the shooting death of a man in his apartment nearly five years ago will stand trial in a civil lawsuit filed in the case.
That’s the decision released today by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.
In making the ruling, the federal court affirmed a district court’s order denying qualified immunity for Donna Lesher and Tabitha McCrillis on the claims of unlawful entry and unreasonable use of deadly force.
Eugene Ellison, 67, was shot and killed inside his home at the Big Country Chateau apartment complex in December 2010 where the officers had been working off-duty as security.
Ellison was the father of one Little Rock Police officer who just left the force and another who was still employed by the department at the time of the shooting.
Officers Lesher and McCrillis said they were just checking on Ellison’s welfare when he began to attack them violently.
By Linda Satter
This article was published August 7, 2015 in the print edition of the Arkansas Democratic Gazette.
Two female Little Rock police officers must appear before a federal jury on allegations they illegally entered a man’s apartment in late 2010 while working as security guards for the complex, but only one of them will face accusations of using unreasonable deadly force.
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[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The family of Eugene Ellison, an unarmed 67-year-old man who was shot to death in his Arkansas home 5 years ago, is asking the Justice Department to investigate his death. Eugene Ellison’s son, Spencer Ellison and Attorney Michael Laux join Tamron Hall.
– NewsNation with Tamron Hall 2/26/15[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]