NAACP: Court shooting ‘senseless’Published 11:56pm Friday, February 4, 2011
GOODWATER — The president of the Alabama chapter of the NAACP said Friday he is concerned about the shooting of a black man in a small-town courtroom by a white police officer and hopes authorities conduct a thorough investigation.
“It seems like just another senseless shooting of a young African-American male,” said Alabama NAACP President Bernard Simelton of the shooting Bryant Keith Ford, 25, on Thursday.
Authorities say Ford was shot by a Goodwater police officer after he waved a crutch in the air and attempted to take a gun that District Court Judge Carlton Teel had pulled out. Two attorneys who witnessed the melee confirmed investigators’ version of events, but some spectators deny that Ford threatened the judge.
Ford was listed in good condition Friday at UAB Hospital in Birmingham.
Reached at his office in Rockford, Teel declined comment. “I’ve been asked not to talk about it,” Teel said.
The chairman of the civil rights arm of the legislative black caucus, state Rep. Alvin Holmes, said he will ask the Justice Department to investigate the shooting.
Goodwater police asked the Alabama Bureau of Investigation to review the shooting, but Holmes said he wants an investigation by someone from outside the state. No charges had been filed by late Friday. The name of the police officer has not been released.
“A man was shot when he was on crutches,” Holmes said.
Located about 60 miles north of Montgomery in a rural county where unemployment is high partly because of closed textile mills, Goodwater is about 70 percent black, and both Police Chief Gerald Whetstone and Mayor Lonnie Caldwell are black. While it seems like a place where minorities are in firm control, some black residents said the shooting laid bare an uneasy relationship between the town’s administration and residents.