The City of Little Rock and several of its police officers face a federal civil rights lawsuit. The legal action stems from an incident on December 9, 2010 when two off-duty police officers, who worked as security guards at a local apartment complex, entered the apartment of 67-year-old Eugene Ellison without a warrant and one officer ultimately shot and killed Ellison during a struggle.
An internal investigation cleared the officers of any wrongdoing, but Attorney Michael Laux says the officers used excessive force and the sons of the deceased are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
“The invasion of Mr. Ellison’s home and his killing by these officers were gross violations of his constitutional rights, as well as the laws of the State of Arkansas,” said Laux. “The conduct of these officers in entering Mr. Ellison’s home and shooting him dead was but a natural and predictable byproduct of a culture that has apparently taken hold at the Little Rock Police Department.”
Laux says the police department has a long track record of disregarding excessive force claims against its officers and the only reason the two off-duty cops entered the apartment that day was to find out why Ellison’s front door was ajar.
Spencer Ellison, a former detective with the LRPD, says his father’s death could have been avoided.
“We pray that justice is served. It is our desire and hope that no other family will have to experience the pain and emotions that we have endured for the last 10 months,” said Ellison.
Officials with the Little Rock Police Department said the have no comment at this time on the lawsuit, but Police Chief Stuart Thomas is expected to release a statement in the coming days.