Next in tonight’s lethal force double feature, we turn to Montgomery, Alabama for the death of 59-year old black man, Greg Gunn, shot and killed at around 3:20 Thursday morning outside of his neighbor’s home on his own street for simply appearing to be “suspicious”.
In contrast to the officer-involved shooting in Anaheim this week where video evidence indicates that the man dropped his gun shortly before cops opened fire on him, Gunn has witnesses saying he was not armed the night he was killed. There were no 911 calls to report him, nor was he the suspect in any crime.
Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finley said the unidentified officer who shot Gunn, a four-year veteran of the force, had been on a routine patrol of the Mobile Heights neighborhood when he noticed a “suspicious character.”
Gunn’s next door neighbor, Colvin Hinson, said the officer shot Gunn “four or five times” in his front yard. The gunshots came after Hinson and other neighbors heard Gunn banging on Hinson’s window and screaming his neighbor’s name.
“He was banging on the window and calling my name as loud as you could call it, his voice raising more and more,” Hinson said. “That was the only voice I heard. I didn’t hear anybody say, ‘Stop, halt, lay down.’ Nothing.”
Hinson was walking across the house to find his cell phone and dial 911 when he heard the gunfire.
By the time Hinson reached his front yard he found an officer holding a gun over the body of his neighbor, Greg Gunn. Three shell casings were on his doormat.
Another neighbor, Scott Mohammed saw the events from the house across the street. He heard an altercation on the Hinson’s lawn and decided to walk across the street. This was when he saw an officer was present, he told the Montgomery Advertiser.
“It escalated. You could just feel the energy,” Muhammad said. “I turned around and told my wife to call the police. Then I saw him shoot four or five times and said, ‘Damn, that was the police.’”
Muhammad confirmed that Gunn was screaming for help.
“I saw when they killed him,” Muhammad said. “He was calling for his mother, his neighbor. He was knocking on the window.”
When Police Chief Finley was asked whether the murdered man was believed to be armed, he responded, “there was some indication of some instrument.” Then he added that Gunn was believed to be holding something resembling a stick or pole.
Tarkisha Matthews, Gunn’s friend, said he had been playing cards with her at his girlfriend’s house down the street. She confirms that Gunn did not have a weapon or anything that could be mistaken for a stick or pole.
Matthews and Gunn left at the same time and were walking together as a patrol car slowed down and watched them. She then hurried home. According to Matthews, a series of recent break-ins in neighborhood had led to an increase in police patrols.
In a Thursday morning press conference, Finley said investigations into Gunn’s killing would be conducted by the State Bureau of Investigations and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. This is said to be usual protocol for officer-involved killings.
Finley says he will be helping the family through their grief as well as assisting the officer with any trauma after the incident. The officer is required to take at least 72 hours of paid leave after the shooting.
“Our condolences go out to the family. We did talk to the family. We’re going to be professional. We’re gonna give them support as well. They are in this time mourning the loss of their loved one,” Finley said.
According to Gunn’s sister Kimberly, their father Frank Gunn, Jr. had also been a Montgomery police officer.
Gunn’s brother Kenneth told the press, “This was a wrong and senseless death by the Montgomery Police Department. My brother was not a violent person and never was.” He said that his brother was well-known and liked in the community where he had lived for decades.
“From my experience of this neighborhood. It’s been police harassment — people always on guard for the police. They don’t feel safe, and he was singled out. Not because he was doing anything wrong, because he was black. He was black at 3 in the morning,” Kenneth Gunn said.
Kenneth Gunn also said he believes police are using the “stick” as a cover up. He said his brother was being chased by the officer, and the tool was on a neighbor’s porch.
Mohammed also commented on the senselessness of the violence. “Here’s a question: Should a young, white male police a black community? They don’t know us. The police brought violence to the community last night,” Mohammed said.
Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey said there would be a case ready to present to the grand jury once all evidence, such as the body cam the officer was wearing, has been collected and reviewed.