The ACLU has called for policing reforms after a local prosecutor’s decision not to charge Conway police officers in the February death of Lionel Morris, a suspected shoplifter who was Tased and restrained for six minutes while crying he couldn’t breathe, then died en route to a hospital.
Officers chased, tackled and hit Morris in a Harp’s store. They said force was necessary to subdue him. Release of video this week showed officers with a foot or knee on Morris as he said he couldn’t breathe.
An ACLU release:
Following the prosecutor’s decision not to file charges against Conway police officers for the killing of Lionel Morris, the ACLU of Arkansas today reiterated its call for systemic reforms to policing, as well as an independent review of police use of deadly force and a statewide standards board to take complaints from the public about police misconduct.
“Lionel Morris’s killing at the hands of Conway police officers is an unacceptable and tragic reminder of the deadly toll that police violence constantly takes on communities of color,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas interim executive director and legal director. “It is long past time for state officials to establish an independent review process for the use of deadly force by Arkansas law enforcement agencies and empower a statewide standards board to hold police officers accountable for misconduct. The fact that these deadly incidents continue amid a nationwide outcry against police violence demonstrates the need for systemic reform and a reimagining of the role of police in our communities. If law enforcement agencies cannot keep people safe, then they should not exist in their current form. We stand in solidarity with Morris’s family and loved ones, and will continue to demand the transformational reform that’s needed to stop the bloodshed and save Black lives.”
A 2019 study found that police are now a leading cause of death among American men overall, with black men 2½ times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than white men. Policing remains among the rare professions without a statewide licensing board empowered to receive and act on complaints from the public.