Attorneys say they are preparing a civil rights lawsuit for filing in federal court for the family of Covington resident Leonard Parker Jr. who reportedly was shot and killed by a Mississippi police officer in February 2020.
Parker's widow, Catina Parker, said, “Leonard was a wonderful father, husband, brother and son, and we continue to grieve and struggle with his loss."
"He was full of life and should be alive and with us today. We need answers. We need accountability. We need justice,” Mrs. Parker said.
Gulfport Police spokesman Detective Jason DuCré said multiple 911 calls were made from a home on 25th Street before the incident, the Biloxi Sun Herald newspaper reported.
Police told WLOX-TV that the officer, who was never identified, was walking toward the house early on Feb. 1, 2020, when Parker started driving toward him, authorities said. That prompted the officer to fire his weapon, killing Parker,
A news release from the Ben Crump law firm stated that police reports said Parker was unarmed.
He died from a single gunshot wound to the head, according to Harrison County Coroner Brian Switzer.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigations and the Biloxi Police Department investigated the case.
The officer involved was placed on non-enforcement duty after the incident but has never been identified to the public or the Parker family, the news release stated.
Earlier this month, a grand jury in Gulfport chose not to return an indictment in the case.
For at least 25 years, no grand jury on the Mississippi Gulf Coast has ever indicted an officer for wrongdoing after shooting someone, the Sun Herald reported.
Parker was a father of six, an Army veteran and an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci today, April 16, announced they were preparing to file a federal civil rights lawsuit in the Fifth Circuit of the U.S. District Court, which includes Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
“Black citizens like Leonard Parker Jr. continue to be shot and killed by police, even when they are unarmed and have done nothing wrong,” Crump said.
“Police were at that location for an unrelated concern and yet Mr. Parker ends up dead. Black lives continue to be undervalued by police in our country, and it must end. As a nation, we must be better; we demand better.”
At least one key witness, the passenger in the car driven by Parker, was not asked to testify before the grand jury, the news release stated.
Romanucci said, “The lack of a bystander video to this tragedy is so unfortunate, as not only has it made it hard for many people to understand what happen and share this family’s outrage, but it has also allowed law enforcement here to try and bury this case from public view.
"Officials have not turned over key documents, body camera footage, or the name of any officer involved. But worst of all, they have not shown the Parker family the respect of even acknowledging the death. This is completely shameful, and we will ensure this family gets the justice they deserve."