The lawyer representing the family of a young man killed by campus police in Alabama last week is arguing that the officer’s use of force was unjustifiable. 18-year old Gilbert Thomas Collar, a freshman at the University of South Alabama, was apparently nude and acting erratically when he showed up at a police station last Saturday night. After Collar reportedly banged on the door and window of the station, a single officer confronted the student outside. Details of the incident that followed are still emerging, but after Collar allegedly refused to obey the officer’s orders and continued to advance, the officer discharged his gun. The bullet struck Collar in the chest and he died at the scene.
The family’s attorney, Jere Beasley, says that nothing in the surveillance tape taken from the station justifies the use of deadly force. Collar, who has no history of violence and is described by friends as a “mellow” guy, was unarmed. Both Beasley and the Sherriff’s office believe Collar was given a substance earlier in the night that led to his unusual behaviour. Witnesses claim to have seen someone give Collar the hallucinogenic drug LSD in the hours before the incident.
The trial will attempt to determine whether the officer’s use of force was justifiable given the circumstances. Collar’s apparently muscular build and allegedly threatening behaviour may prove adequate justification for the firing of the deadly shot. In the meantime, Beasley has confirmed that state Representative Barry Mask will ask the state to launch a review of training and equipment standards for university police departments across Alabama. The family is awaiting the results of the investigation before deciding whether to file a lawsuit with the school.