Lawyers say they are preparing a civil rights lawsuit to refer the family of Covington-based Leonard Parker Jr., who was reportedly shot and killed by a Mississippi police officer in February 2020, in federal court.
Parker’s widow, Catina Parker, said, “Leonard was a wonderful father, husband, brother and son, and we continue to grieve and struggle with his loss.”
“He was full of life and should be alive and with us today. We need answers. We need accountability. We need justice,” said Mrs. Parker.
Gulfport Police Department spokesman Detective Jason DuCré said several emergency calls were made from a house on 25th Street prior to the incident, the Biloxi Sun Herald reported.
Police told WLOX-TV that the unidentified officer was walking towards the house early February 1, 2020 when Parker walked up to him. This caused the officer to fire his weapon and kill Parker.
A press release from the Ben Crump law firm said police reports said Parker was unarmed.
Harrison County coroner Brian Switzer said he died of a gunshot wound to the head.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigations and the Biloxi Police Department are investigating the case.
The officer concerned was transferred to the non-enforcement service following the incident, but has not been identified to the public or the Parker family, the press release said.
Earlier this month, a grand jury in Gulfport decided not to return a charge on the case.
In at least 25 years, no major jury on the Mississippi Gulf Coast has ever charged an official with misconduct after shooting someone, the Sun Herald reported.
Parker was a father of six, an Army veteran, and an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci announced today, April 16, that they were preparing to file a federal civil lawsuit in the Fifth Circuit of the US District Court, which includes Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
“Black citizens like Leonard Parker Jr. continue to be shot dead by the police even if they are unarmed and have done nothing wrong,” said Crump.
“The police were in this place on an unrelated matter and yet Mr. Parker is dead. Black lives continue to be undervalued by the police in our country and it must end. As a nation we have to be better; we demand better. “
At least one key witness, the passenger in the car Parker drives, was not asked to testify before the grand jury, the press release said.
Romanucci said: “The lack of a viewer video for this tragedy is so unfortunate that not only has it made it difficult for many people to understand what is happening and to share this family’s outrage, but it has also enabled law enforcement here to to try to bury this case from the public.
“Officers have not given any key documents, body camera footage, or the name of any officer involved. Worst of all, they haven’t shown the Parker family the respect to acknowledge death in the first place. This is utterly shameful and we will see to it.” This family is getting the justice it deserves. “