Shooting victim questions Selma police inaction

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 15, 2003

The victim of an early morning shooting in Selma has questioned whether police are doing enough to find the man who shot him.

James Oyler, 26, was shot at the corner of Water Avenue and Broad Street on May 17 around 12:20 a.m. No suspect has been brought into custody at this time.

Now with 32 staple marks on his stomach and without a spleen, Oyler said he wanted to set the record straight about the night a bullet went through his lung, diaphragm and spleen before finally coming to rest four inches from his spine.

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Oyler said he had recently moved back to Dallas County from Mobile in preparation for his Oct. 20, 2003, entry into the Marines.

Oyler, his brother and sister-in-law had just gotten in their car and pulled onto Water Avenue after visiting a local night spot on May 17 when he heard a car’s horn blowing at them. The shooter’s car &045;&045; described as a gold Honda Accord &045;&045; pulled between Oyler’s vehicle and the row of parked cars before blocking the road.

Oyler, who is white, said a young black man then exited the car and he and his brother followed suit. Oyler said he and his brother wanted to see if they had hit the Accord and, if so, work something out.

That’s when the shooting happened.

Oyler described what happened next. He stumbled back to his car and got in the back seat. His brother raised his hands to show he had no weapon, and asked the man why he shot his brother.

The suspect got back in his car without saying a word and pulled onto the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where he threw the weapon onto the bridge, Oyler said.

Oyler said his brother then drove to the old Vaughan hospital on Dallas Avenue, not realizing it had been closed. From there, Oyler was brought to Vaughan Regional Medical Center and later transferred to The University of Alabama in Birmingham.

After being shot, Oyler said he had made his peace with God. &uot;I said, ‘If You take me now, I’ll go,&uot; he recalled. &uot;If You let me live, I’ll never waste a day of my life.&uot;

Oyler said he expects to be completely released from medical care July 2.

But he questions how the Selma Police Department has handled the case thus far.

The police have yet to contact him about taking a statement since he’s been home, Oyler said, although he did say that the police had conducted a photo line-up with him.

Warren Hinson &045;&045; Selma Police Department public information officer &045;&045; declined to comment on any aspect of the investigation.

Oyler, Detective Mamie Haile and Dallas County District Attorney Ed Greene met on Friday in response to Oyler’s concerns about the police investigation.

Greene confirmed that a weapon had been found on the bridge soon after the shooting, along with a cartridge casing.

Oyler said a statement was taken from him at the meeting Friday, but added that it didn’t occur until after a month had passed since the shooting.