A representative of the family of Michael Moore addressed members of the media Thursday to discuss how the family is handling their grief and the multiple investigations into the police shooting that ended the life of their relative earlier this week.
Moore, 19, was fatally shot by an officer of the Mobile Police Department on Monday after being pulled over in a vehicle reported stolen just a few days earlier.Police say they also found a stolen handgun on Moore at the scene, but several who claim to have witnessed the shooting maintain they never saw Moore with a gun nor did they see police remove one from the crime scene.
Since the shooting was reported Monday evening, Moore’s family has been represented in the media mostly through D.J. Larry, who told Lagniappe he is Moore’s cousin. Larry spoke to the media June 16 and said he respected that police are conducting an investigation but said the family wanted to be kept “in the loop.”
“You have an investigation going on, and all these facts are being flowed out to the media, such as a picture of a .40 caliber gun,” Larry said referencing the photo of a handgun the MPD released Wednesday. “This young man had zero fat on him, and he had on basketball shorts. That gun would not have been in the waistband. Additionally, the initial report was, on Monday night when we asked if there was a weapon on the scene, [Mobile Police] Chief [James] Barber told us, ‘no.’”
Larry urged investigators with MPD’s internal affairs unit and the FBI to question eyewitnesses who claim to have seen the shooting, which happened at the intersection of Stanton Road and Wagner Street just after 6 p.m., June 13.
Lagniappe was previously able to confirm that MPD and FBI officials had interviewed Willie Westbrook, an eyewitness who has disputed some of the details provided by the MPD. At least eight other witnesses were interviewed, according to Barber, including two passengers in the vehicle Moore was driving.
According to Larry, the car belonged to the grandfather of “a young lady he had been dating,” adding that other members of the girl’s family had seen Moore driving the car prior to the shooting.
To the contrary, police say Moore’s passengers said he acknowledged the car was stolen on the day of the shooting as the officer went back to run its registration. Authorities have also released a complaint reporting the car as stolen three days before the shooting.
Though details are being disputed, Larry agreed officers are sometimes required to use deadly force “as a last resort,” but said he did not believe it was necessary during the altercation that ended his cousin’s life.
“Even in a combat situation, that is a last resort. But, there is a time for that,” Larry said. “But, if a gentleman is holding his shorts up with a cellphone in his hand, that’s not the time to shoot.”
When he spoke to the Mobile City Council earlier this week, Larry said the family would accept the outcome of the investigation if it uncovered any “legitimate” reason for the shooting, but he also asked that any Mobile police officer with credible knowledge of the incident, “do the right thing.”
“Some cases in the United States have been decided simply by one of the officers standing up, having backbone and saying, ‘No, this is a problem. I’m going to stand up for what’s right and for justice,’” Larry said. “That’s what they put the uniform on for, and they should be doing that.”
Larry described Moore as a “playful kid,” who like a lot of teenagers, hadn’t yet decided what he wanted to do with his life. He also said Moore enjoyed spending time with the younger children in their family, including his younger brother.
“He was just that type of kid. He had friends, but very few. He spent a lot of time with his family,” Larry said. “He loved to be with the small kids in the family. If nobody else was going to play with them, Mike was going to.”
Larry said Moore “would have never tried to harm anybody,” but also said “he wouldn’t have’ allowed somebody to harm him,” either. When asked by reporters, Larry also acknowledged that Moore had a history with the juvenile court system in Mobile, which had been speculated based on posts to Moore’s public Facebook page.
“He did have a situation he encountered, but I implore you, reach out to the judge over at [Strickland] Youth Center, reach out to his juvenile probation officer. They’ll tell you the type of person Mike is,” he said. “Don’t take it from the family, talk to them.”
Lagniappe reached out to Circuit Judge Edmond Naman, who oversees the juvenile court system in Mobile, but has yet to receive a response. Typically, all juvenile cases are sealed so the details of that history are not available.
However, Moore has had one previous encounter with local law enforcement since turning 18 last June, an incident in January leading to his arrest on charges of “giving a false name to an officer, resisting arrest and failure to obey.”
Lagniappe requested a report from that incident, but MPD Public Affairs Officer Charlette Solis said it couldn’t be released because it’s being considered as part of the investigation of Moore’s death.
Moving forward, Larry said Moore’s family had retained a lawyer from Atlanta, though he didn’t say they had any plans for litigation at this time. As the investigations continue, Larry said Moore’s family was handling their grief together with support from the Toulminville community.
“We’re together as a family. We’re supporting each other, and we’re asking that the community continues to support us,” he said. “We’ve seen the marches. Unfortunately, in today’s society, it’s going to take numbers. It’s going to take people caring to make the right folks come out.”
Though at least two unofficial marches have already taken place, the first official vigil for Moore has been planned for 7 p.m. on Saturday at Stanton Road.