I’m not sure which is worse—dying as a victim of brutality, or living through it only to be paralyzed for life and to watch other Black people die at the hands of police, security guards and members of communities.
Meet Monroe Bird, III, a 21-year-old Black man from Tulsa, OK. Bird was shot in the neck by Security Guard Ricky Stone on Wednesday, Feb. 4 in his car. He was talking to a White female passenger at the time and was not armed. Bird is now a quadriplegic and has to use a ventilator to breathe. Stone claims that he shot Bird in self-defense after the young man backed up his car to hit Stone.
Benjamin Crump, the former lawyer for Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin’s families is now one of the lawyers representing Monroe Bird’s relatives. He and local Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons have asked the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office to reconsider its previous decision not to charge Stone for the shooting.
The district attorney pushed back however, arguing that as long as a citizen feels like his safety is at risk, he can do want he feels necessary to defend himself.
The girl speaking with Bird in the car was 15 years old at the time of the police stop. She fled the scene during the stop but was later interviewed by the police. Stone fired three shots into the car; he claims that Bird was driving away when Stone fired.
However, there are a few troublesome parts of the case that challenge Stone’s credibility and highlight the issues now faced by Bird’s family:
1) Faulty Defense Claim
Stone argued that he shot in self-defense because Bird started driving away, but if Bird was actually driving away as he said, Stone wouldn’t have had anything to defend himself from. Crump also argues that forensics refutes Stone’s claims, as it was impossible for the car to have landed where it did once Bird was shot and immediately paralyzed.
2) Stone’s Drug Possession
Stone had marijuana on him at the time of the shooting. He denied using it then, but possession of weed is an automatic misdemeanor in Oklahoma and he was never cited for it.
3) Faulty Gun Reference
Stone claimed that Bird reached over to the glove compartment for a weapon but there was no gun in the car nor any significant items in the glove compartment when Bird was stopped.
4) Discrepancy Over Sexual Activity
Stone claimed that he thought Bird and the passenger were having sex in the vehicle and prompted him to approach the car. Both Bird and the passenger denied those claims. It’s worth noting here the girl in the car was a young White female.
5) History of Excessive Force
Stone’s employer belongs to Tulsa’s Sheriff Department, a department that is already under fire for excessive force during the murder of Eric Harris.
6) Bird’s Denial of Medical Services
Bird has been denied insurance coverage for his condition because the district attorney argues the episode was solely Bird’s fault. Bird’s mother, Zondra Magness, has quit her job to watch her son 24/7. He lacks rehabilitative or nursing care, his home is not suitable for wheelchair access and he lives too far from a hospital if he needs urgent medical care.
Bird’s family and lawyers are considering a civil suit. Bird was once a talented basketball player and is liked in his community. His parents are part of the local clergy and city council.
During an appearance at a news conference, Bird’s older sister, Kiera Bird, said: “I’ve seen injustices like this in the news and around the country, but I never thought it could happen to my little brother…He just wants to walk again. He told me if he could just move his arms he’d be happy about that.”
Our thoughts go out to the Bird family at this time. We hope they’re successful with their case and we’ll keep you in the know on updates with Bird’s story.