Family takes exception to police reports

Published 10:46pm Saturday, December 14, 2013

Edward Shaw admits his brother had lived a different, and more nomadic lifestyle than most. But Shaw isn’t likely to ever accept the notion that his brother, 73-year-old Ananias, raised a hatchet in a threatening manor and rushed toward several Selma Police officers in the seconds before he was killed earlier this month by a bullet from the gun of one of the officers.

The Alabama Bureau of Investigation is working to determine what exactly transpired in the minutes before Ananias was killed on Griffin Avenue, but not knowing the answer to why his brother is dead torments Shaw.

When speaking about his brother, Edward describes a man whose life can be looked back upon as a series of unfortunate events that ultimately defined him.

“My brother was a gentle soul,” Edward said earlier this week, when reflecting on Ananias. “Life and conditions, sometimes they beat you down. Everybody has a story to tell about why their lives go different ways.”

With rumors swirling about his brother’s behavior in the moments before his death, Edward hopes only to spread the word on who his brother was in life.

Edward said a lifetime of tragedy and loss set Ananias on a path of solitude, but he said his brother never became violent or threatening even when he was under the influence of alcohol, which was often.

“My brother walked these streets over 40 years,” Edward said. “He talked loud when he drank his wine, but ain’t never hurt a flea. And when he was talking to you, he was backing away from you. He’ll talk, but he’s backing away.”

Edward said a lifetime of watching his brother’s behavior leaves him questioning statements by Selma Chief of Police William Riley that Ananias had charged at police officers while wielding a hatchet, forcing one officer to draw a pistol on him before firing a fatal shot.

Edward said his brother would on occasion carry a small hatchet with him for protection from thieves who would take advantage of him and try to steal what money he had.

“He only carried that on the first two weeks of the month when they were trying to rob him,” Edward said. “They tried to prey on him. But as for swirling (the hatchet) or twirling it, whatever they say, he doesn’t do that.”

Officers were dispatched to a disturbance call after Ananias allegedly caused a scene at a fast food restaurant, leaving before police arrived. Officers were walking him back toward the restaurant when, according to Riley, Ananias charged the officers with the hatchet.

Riley said the officer involved had been put into a situation they had been well trained for, something Edward also questions.

“If your officers are so trained that they cannot diffuse a situation of a 73-year-old man that’s backing away from you and has left the scene of a misdemeanor, I don’t see any training in that,” Edward said. “I just don’t understand it.”

Edward, who was not on the scene until after the shooting occurred, takes issue with several aspects of the police department’s statements about the event, and is struggling with the realities of what happened and the questions that remain.

Edward said his brother had chosen to live a more solitary life, walking the streets of Selma during the days, but he said that lifestyle didn’t change the bond between the two.

“That’s the way he chose to live,” Edward said. “He didn’t have to live like this, but he chose to. You couldn’t tell your brother or sister how to live. You try to suggest to them, but if they decide what’s for them, that is what you have to do. You still have to be blood and hang with them, and that’s what we did.”

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