UPDATED Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 3:56 p.m., ET–
Benjamin Crump, the civil rights attorney who represented the families of Michael Brown Jr., Tamir Rice, and Trayvon Martin, has been retained in the case of a Tulsa, Okla. man shot and paralyzed by a security guard in February 2015.
On Monday, the family of Monroe Bird III gathered at the Greater Grace Temple church with both Crump and attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons to announce their involvement and call for the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office to consider charging the security guard who shot the 21-year-old in the neck, striking his C3 vertebrae and paralyzing him for life.
The Deerfield Estates Apartment guard, identified as Ricky Stone, told police that he fired his weapon because Bird attempted to back a car into him. According to Tulsa World, District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said that the facts presented at this time do not warrant any charges. He would, however, be willing to reconsider if other information is presented, the news site reports.
But in an exclusive interview with NewsOne, Crump said the argument that Stone was acting in self-defense doesn’t add up. It’s impossible for things to have happened the way Stone alleges, said Crump, adding that the female witness in the car said Bird was immediately paralyzed after being shot. Police say Stone approached the car because he believed Bird and the 15-year-old passenger, who has not been named, were having sex in the vehicle. Police claim that Bird appeared to have backed up the car, striking Stone and prompting him to fire three shots.
“If Bird was shot while he was backing up, like they’re trying to suggest, there’s no way possible for the car to end up where it ended up,” Crump said, citing forensics.
Crump continued, adding that it was impossible for Bird to have driven the vehicle after being shot and paralyzed. “Bird would had to have taken the car out of reverse, put it into drive, turn the car and then drive 25 to 30 yards and crash into a tree,” Crump said.
In a follow-up message to NewsOne, Crump summed up the crux of the argument he is making on behalf of Bird. “If the security guard shoots while [Bird is] driving away, then it isn’t self-defense.”
Crump told NewsOne that his team is considering civil action. The family will continue to press for charges, he said.
“We will be bringing a civil suit against the security company and the apartment complex for the security guard improperly following policies and procedures, as well as illegally trying to detain and confront invitees of the apartment complex who had every right to be there.”
On Monday, Kunzweiler acknowledged that the shooting of the former junior college basketball player — who previously stood 6 feet, 8 inches tall — was a tragedy, but insisted that the facts as they stand do not warrant a charge.
“The reality is that when you’re a citizen and someone has put you in risk of harm, in this instance being hit by a car, you have every right to defend yourself,” Kunzweiler said, according to Tulsa World. “The evidence at the scene bore that out.”
Providing details on Bird’s current condition to NewsOne, Crump said the athlete’s family just wants justice and truth.
“He can talk, but he can’t move anything,” Crump told NewsOne. “He’s on a ventilator [on a schedule of] three hours, off one hour. They’re trying to get his diaphragm stronger to the point that they can take him off the ventilator.”
The family has told him little about how the case is proceeding, because “they’re trying to keep him positive and not going into depression,” Crump added.
His mother, Zondra Magness, quit her job to stay by her son’s side, Crump said. She did not attend Monday’s press conference because Bird must be turned every two hours to avoid bedsores.