SWAT officers in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, shot and killed a 107-year-old man during a standoff at his residence.
The shooting of the man, Monroe Isadore, is prompting quite a bit of backlash and speculation about why the fire order was issued. Isadore was nearly deaf and legally blind and not considered a threatening or violent man but either his neighbors or fellow New Direction Baptist Church members. Pine Bluff is approximately 45 miles southeast of Little Rock.
“I’m in shock today,” Larry Smith, who attended church at New Direction Baptist, told KLRT-TV. “He couldn’t hear. Somebody should’ve told the [police] he couldn’t hear.”
Monroe Isadore’s inability to hear and respond to orders by the Arkansas SWAT team has led many to believe that he did not understand what was happening outside his home and did not realize it was safe to walk out the door. Monroe routinely donated vegetables he grew from in his garden to his church peers.
The Pine Bluff Police Department has refused to comment on the details surrounding the decision to use deadly force against Isadore, according to KATV-TV Channel 7 News. Lt. David Price did relay that the emergency call the officer received said that Isadore had two people inside his home and was pointing a gun at them. SWAT team members, as they approached a bedroom, reportedly told the two people who were allegedly being threatened at gunpoint to leave the house.
The 107-year-old man allegedly shot through the bedroom door at the officers, but missed. A small surveillance camera was reportedly inserted into the room to confirm that the elderly man was holding a handgun, after negotiations had begun. Since Isadore was deaf, he could not tell that law enforcement officers were talking to him. The identities of the two people inside the home and why they were there remains unknown. Since they were on the other side of the bedroom door when the SWAT team arrived, many wonder why they simply did not leave the home before the situated escalated to the level it did.
When Isadore did not negotiate with the SWAT team, gas was pumped into the room via a window. Although the law enforcement officers reportedly hoped that the gas would prompt the elderly man to lay down his gun and walk out of the room, it did not. The 107-year-old man fired off a few more shots at the SWAT entry team on the other side of the bedroom door. A “distraction device” was then thrown into the room after team members broke down the door. Isadore kept on firing his handgun as the officers swarmed his room. The elderly man was quickly shot and killed during the exchange of gunfire.
The coroner’s report notes that Monroe Isadore died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds. No SWAT team members were harmed during the shooting. The officers are trained to respond quickly and with deadly force when encountering gunfire; the age and sex of the alleged armed assailant can only briefly be taken into consideration.
The death of a disabled 107-year-old man should not have met such a tragic end. The case clearly and tragically illustrates why the excited utterances of a 911 call should not be considered enough evidence to storm a home and open fire when an alleged attacker does not respond. A simple background check would have revealed the man with a gun was deaf, nearly blind, and likely extremely frightened.