Lawrence Hawkins was always willing to help someone in need, according to his brother, Roy Hawkins. The last time he saw his brother, who was shot by a Prichard police officer in 2017, he was working on a friend’s truck in his driveway.
“He was the type of person if you needed help, he would help you,” Roy said.
The only thing left of Lawrence Hawkins now are memories, Roy said, while standing in front of Mobile’s Government Plaza, advocating against a recent decision in Mobile County Circuit Court to grant bail to that now-former officer Jonathan Murphy in an unrelated case.
A grand jury declined to charge Murphy for any wrongdoing in the 2017 shooting, finding it was justified. Murphy was on the force until he was charged with murder for shooting 39-year-old Larry Taylor at the Avalon Place Apartments on Dec. 21 of last year. Murphy was recently given a $200,000 bond in that case, but the Hawkins family gathered with others on Monday, Feb. 1 to publicly question that decision.
“We ask that District Attorney [Ashley] Rich and the presiding judge immediately revoke the bail of Jonathan Murphy,” Cecilia Hawkins, a niece of Lawrence, said.
Rich told Lagniappe bond is given in every case that isn’t a capital murder case. She added that Murphy’s $200,000 bond was only $50,000 less than prosecutors had asked for.
“We also asked that he not be allowed to possess any firearms,” she said. “We also thought he should be fired. He doesn’t deserve to be a police officer.”
Aside from capital cases, Rich said she’ll ask for bond to be revoked if a defendant commits another crime while out of jail. This wasn’t the case with Murphy, she said.
Tomeika Hawkins, another niece of Lawrence Hawkins, said the city and the Prichard Police Department were hard to communicate with when it came to getting information about her uncle’s death. The family was even ignored when they tried to get a police report about the incident, she said.
“We’re just sick and tired of it,” she said.
Jeff Deen, an attorney for Murphy, said his heart goes out to the grieving family, but he noted the current case is completely unrelated.
“Every case rests on its own merits,” he said. “Empathy should be felt for the pain that Mr. Hawkins’ family has for the loss of a loved one. However, the circumstances surrounding that case have nothing to do with the current case.”
In a letter to Rich, State Rep. Napoleon Bracy asked if the now-former officer had been held accountable for his actions in the Hawkins case and others, would Taylor still be alive.
“Mr. Murphy has proven time and time again that he is a menace to society,” Bracy wrote. “Every moment he continues to walk the streets in Mobile County, countless lives are in danger.”
Bracy wrote he hopes the families of Hawkins and Taylor can “soon receive justice.”
“Justice starts with revoking Mr. Murphy’s bond and ensuring the safety of the citizens of Mobile County,” he wrote.
The Hawkins family has also filed a civil lawsuit in the case, which is still pending.
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