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Eugene Ellison killed by LR police officers, family sues LRPD

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — A man is shot and killed in his home by Little Rock police officers. His family takes action filing a federal civil rights lawsuit. Officers shot and killed Eugene Ellison in December of 2010. The Little Rock Police Department conducted an internal investigation and found the shooting justified. Ellison’s family says he posed no threat to the officers. Today they met at the Capitol hotel to announce the lawsuit.

A lawsuit filed in Federal court says Little Rock officers Donna Lesher and Tabitha McCrillis used excessive force and conducted an unlawful search against 67 year old Eugene Ellison. Authorities say the officers had to shoot Ellison after he attacked them when they entered his home last December while working off duty as security officer for the Chateau Apartment complex.

Prosecutor Larry Jegley investigated the case and filed no charges against the officers. Ellison’s family is suing the city of Little Rock and the officers for wrongful death. Attorney Michael Laux says Ellison’s death was avoidable. “There are literally hundreds of scenarios that could have unfolded and none of them would have resulted in Mr. Ellison’s death.”

Eugene’s two sons both have worked in law enforcement. Troy is currently a detective with the Little Rock police force Spencer teaches law enforcement classes and wants their lawsuit to shed a light on the issue. “Our hope and intentions are to seek justice only I also want to increase awareness and the facts about this traumatic event so that others may come forth as we did.”

Laux says they are seeking significant sums of money in compensation for damages, but wouldn’t say exactly how much. The lawsuit lists 11 counts.

Statement from LRPD Chief Stuart Thomas, Oct. 17:

The Department has received a copy of the complaint filed today by Troy Ellison, plaintiff, against Officer Donna Lesher, Detective Tabitha McGrillis, myself, the City of Little Rock, and Big Country Chateau, LLC. While a response on behalf of the City and its named employees will be filed in the proper venue in a timely manner, I will at this time state that this incident has undergone intense Departmental review and that the actions of the officers were exonerated by both the Prosecuting Attorney and the Department. Further, I do not believe that the proof will ultimately support the allegations of unlawful customs or practices by this Department, and I have been assured of a vigorous defense by the City Attorney’s Office.