I saw a title, referring to the story that appears below, that said ‘Never, Never Call the Cops For “Help” Unless You’re Willing to Risk Someone Being Shot and Killed’ and that’s what happened in this story. It is a travesty of justice that an American was arrested for being at his own home, as was the case for Henry Louis Gates but being shot and killed by police in your home because relatives wanted the police to perform a ‘welfare check’ is incomprehensible.
When James Howard Allen’s family members asked police to stop by his home for a welfare check on Saturday, they were hoping authorities could help ensure he was safe.
Instead, their request set in motion a series of unlikely events that resulted in the 74-year-old North Carolina man’s death.
Allen was killed by an officer’s bullet, the result of a confrontation that occurred when officers from the Gastonia Police Department entered his home and found Allen, an Army veteran, pointing a handgun at them.
Now, relatives want answers, and two official investigations are underway.
“I am so hurt that he had to die like this,” Allen’s sister, Mary Battle, told ABC affiliate WSOC. “Maybe the police were frightened. Maybe they were. I don’t know. But he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said at a news conference that police were initially dispatched to the home around 10:20 p.m. on Saturday,according to the Charlotte Observer. When nobody answered the door, the officers left and were asked to perform a check of local hospitals in search of Allen.
At 11:30 p.m., after officers failed to locate him, police returned to Allen’s residence with local fire officials, according to the Observer.
“A decision was made to enter the house, concerned that he may be inside in need of emergency assistance,” said Helton, the police chief.
Before entering through the back door, Officer Josh Lefevers announced his presence, Helton said. Once inside, Lefevers encountered Allen, who was pointing a handgun at him.
“He was challenged to lower the gun down,” Helton said at a news conference. “The gun was pointed in the direction of the officers, and a shot was fired that fatally wounded him.”
Why did police feel the need to enter?
Authorities had been made aware that Allen recently underwent heart surgery, Helton said, according to the Gaston Gazette, and were “concerned that he may be inside in need of emergency assistance.”
Lefevers was placed on administrative leave while police conduct their own investigation, according to the Observer. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is conducting a separate investigation into the shooting.
Allen’s family members are demanding more information. His brother-in-law, Robert Battle, told WSOC that Allen “probably woke up, someone’s breaking in on me, so when you’re by yourself you try to protect yourself.
A friend, Otis Thompson, said he can understand why Allen a gun in his hand.
“You kicked the man’s door in,” he told the station. “He’s disoriented and he’s in his own house, privacy of his own home; my first reaction would be to grab a gun, too.”
I have more than a few questions swirling in my head, like why did the police enter from the back and not the front of the house, how many times did officer Lefevers identify himself to Allen upon entering the home…….waking someone up from their sleep in the middle of the night is disorienting for anyone, least of all someone living alone and recovering from major surgery; was the officer’s gun drawn when he encountered Mr. Allen, was he in uniform, plainclothes or wearing the military style police uniform we’ve all become so used to seeing police wearing; what duty did the officer have to retreat versus the legal occupant of the home? I could perhaps come up with a few more. Bottom line, the welfare check involving the police had a predictable outcome. The welfare of Mr. Allen is he is deceased at the hands of the police. Take note America and don’t call the police if you don’t want anyone killed.