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Bullet in the back

Secrecy surrounds informant involved in deadly shooting.

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QUESTIONS IN DEATH: DeAndre Lamar Glenn.
  • QUESTIONS IN DEATH: DeAndre Lamar Glenn.

On Dec. 6, 2006, shortly before 7:30 p.m., Little Rock undercover narcotics detectives shot and killed a man near the intersection of 16th and Cedar. Later that night, three officers filed reports explaining their use of deadly force.

All three reported that the dead man had been seen shooting at another man, and that when they interrupted the altercation, shouting “Police!” and giving chase, the assailant had “turned” and “pointed a gun” at the officers, prompting them to open fire and kill him.

Three months later, that scenario remains cloaked in questions. Police have not released the names of the officers involved. They have given conflicting statements about what transpired. And they have provided no information about the man who reportedly was being shot at, other than to say he was a confidential informant working for narcotics detectives.

Of all the questions that cloud the killing, the greatest is the apparent contradiction between the officers’ account of what happened and the wounds on the dead man’s body. DeAndre Lamar Glenn was struck by two police bullets. One entered his left heel. The bullet that killed him entered his back.

‘Man, let the police handle it.’

Glenn was born in Chicago in 1979. He moved to Arkansas with his family about 10 years ago, while he was in high school. At the time of his death, at 27, Glenn was working for his uncle at an auto detail shop in Searcy, and living with his girlfriend, De’Angela Dickerson, 23, a certified nursing assistant. In 2004, the two had bought a house together, at 4103 W. 13th St., about five blocks from where Glenn would die.

Glenn’s father, Carlton Blakley, of North Little Rock, says that his son’s only encounters with police, prior to his death, had been for traffic violations. Blakley, who coaches wrestling at the Rose City Boys and Girls Club in North Little Rock, said Glenn had recently gotten a ticket in Jacksonville and was scheduled to appear in traffic court there on the day after he was shot.

Beyond that, Blakley and Dickerson describe a young man who worked, ate dinner most Sundays with his dad and other relatives, and enjoyed bowling and watching movies at home. Blakley and Dickerson also agree, however, that Glenn had become highly agitated in the weeks leading to his death.

Dickerson said the trouble began with the first break-in at their home, in late October or early November 2006. She said someone pushed in a window air-conditioner and made off with a 21-inch flat-screen TV, a DVD player, several DVDs, a Play Station, and the base of their surround-sound speaker system. The couple reported the break-in to police.

Less than a week later, Dickerson said, their house was hit again. This time, a neighbor called Dickerson on her cell phone, reporting that she’d heard someone in the house. When Dickerson and Glenn arrived at the house, she said, they found it “trashed.” Jewelry, a second Play Station, games and expensive shoes were gone.

Both break-ins had occurred shortly after the pair had left the house. Dickerson was frightened. “It felt like we were being watched.” she said.

After the second burglary, the couple spent the night at Blakley’s house. Dickerson said Glenn went back to their house the next morning “and boarded up our windows.” This time, they did not report the break-in to police.

They were worried and watchful. “Every time we left the house,” Dickerson said, “we had to get our neighbors to watch it, to see if our windows were still intact.”

“I got to the point, I didn’t want to leave at all at night. If I had to go to the store, I told him to stay at the house. We were trying to keep what we had left.”

Anger and concern were wearing on Glenn as well. When he left for work in the morning, he would worry about leaving Dickerson, who worked at night, at home alone. If she protested, he’d remind her, “Whoever got in here, could have gotten you.”

Blakley told his son to calm down. He recalls, “I said, ‘Man, just let the police handle it.’ ”

‘Baby, let it ride.’

As Thanksgiving approached, the dynamic of the situation shifted. According to Dickerson, “an old friend who lived a couple of blocks over” told her and Glenn that she had been approached by a man who was trying to sell some jewelry, a flat-screen TV, and some shoes — items that the friend recognized as having belonged to Glenn and Dickerson.

The woman gave the pair a description of the seller. He was said to be heavy-set and light-skinned, wearing a black leather coat and blue jeans and driving a truck.

Glenn began asking around, Dickerson said, and “somehow or other” became convinced he’d learned at least the nickname of the thief. People in the neighborhood reported they had seen a man, known only by his initials, who fit the description. Neighbors said they’d seen him hanging out in the area, but no one seemed to know if he lived there.

Blakley thinks it was on the Sunday or Monday before the Wednesday shooting that he saw his son for the last time. Glenn brought some dinner to his father’s house, as he often did, and the two had what would be their last visit. Glenn told Blakley that he thought he knew who the burglar was. “I know he was angry,” Blakley said. “I know he wanted to confront the guy.”

By mid-week, Glenn’s best friend was visiting from out of town. Dickerson said the two men left the house at a little before 7 p.m. to pick up some cash at an ATM for the fines that Glenn expected to have to pay in traffic court the following day.

Soon after they left the house, Glenn called Dickerson on her phone. He said he’d seen the guy the people said were selling the merchandise. He told her he and his friend were going to turn around and come home.

“When he got back,” Dickerson said, “he was hollering out of his frustration. He said he knew it was the guy. He said he’d chased him. He said he was trying to talk to him and he took off running. He said he was going to go back out and find him.”

Dickerson said she’d tried to keep Glenn at home. “I said, ‘Baby, let it ride.’ But he’d responded, ‘I can’t let it ride. He done broke in my house twice!’ So he and his guy friend left back out.”

She added, “I didn’t see him get a gun. I didn’t know he had a gun.”

‘I see him!’

It was about 7:15 when the two left again. A short time later, Glenn called Dickerson a second time, this time shouting, “I see him!” From what Dickerson heard, she believed Glenn had stopped his car and was getting out. Then the call was disconnected. The next thing Dickerson heard was a siren.

Soon after that, Dickerson said, Glenn’s friend returned to the house in a panic and brought her to where Glenn had left the car. “It was all in chaos,” she recalled. Then she saw Glenn.

“As we passed through 16th Street on Cedar, we saw him lying in the ditch, face-down, and my heart just sank. I recognized his burgundy Phillies jacket and white t-shirt. We slowed down and we saw two police pick him up under the arms and move him. Then I was crying and we drove on around the corner.”

Dickerson and Glenn’s friend called Blakley and Glenn’s uncle. When the two older men arrived, “We saw him lying in the street,” Blakley said. “He was lying on his back with his feet dangling in the ditch.”

Dickerson said she told an officer that she was the dead man’s fiancé. Blakley identified himself as the father. Neither was allowed near the body. They say an officer walked to the body, took a photo of Glenn’s face with a cell phone, and returned. Blakley identified his son from the cell phone image.

‘He was supposed to be facing them’

After the shooting, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette quoted police as saying that a detective fired his service revolver after Glenn “turned to face him with an automatic pistol in his right hand.” Blakley and Dickerson say that Glenn was left-handed.

In his first account of the incident, police spokesman Lt. Terry Hastings said Glenn had been selling cocaine and was the target of an undercover operation. Hastings said that three narcotics detectives, sitting in an unmarked pickup nearby, saw Glenn shoot at the informant. When that happened, he said, two of the three detectives jumped out of the truck and identified themselves as police. He said Glenn turned and pointed the gun at them, and that’s when he was shot.

Hastings later changed that account to say that, rather than selling drugs, Glenn had tried to rob the informant.

According to Hastings’s revised account, the two detectives who left the truck fired at Glenn but missed. Glenn ran along 16th Street and fell into a ditch. Hastings told reporters that Glenn was not shot at that point and that he did not know if Glenn had tripped or tried to jump the ditch.

He said that Glenn landed on his stomach, 10 to 15 feet from the detectives. When a detective ordered Glenn not to move, Hastings said, Glenn turned toward him with a gun in his right hand. The detective saw the gun and fired twice, hitting Glenn in his heel and left side.

Blakley finds that account hard to believe. “I’m not doubting that he was upset,” Blakley said of his son. “I know he was angry. But, I mean, he’s from Chicago. He knows it’s a death wish to point a gun at the police.”

Blakley’s misgivings intensified when he received Glenn’s death certificate, which listed the cause of death as “gunshot wound of back.” The death certificate was signed by Dr. Daniel J. Konzelmann, a deputy medical examiner at the Arkansas Crime Laboratory, where Glenn’s body had been sent for autopsy. Hastings and Pulaski County Coroner Mark Malcolm both said the shot struck Glenn’s side.

When Glenn’s body was released for burial, Blakley and other family members decided to photograph it as it lay in the funeral home, so that there would be no doubt about where the bullet had entered. He provided the photos to the Arkansas Times. A frontal picture shows the sutures from the autopsy, but no sign of a bullet wound. A photo of Glenn’s body on its side shows the bullet’s entry wound a little above his waist and about four inches to the left of his spine.

“The problem I’ve really got with that,” Blakley said of the detectives’ account, “is that he was supposed to be facing them, pointing a gun at them.”

‘Who is this guy?’

Blakley wanted to know about the unidentified informant; particularly, if the man who was buying drugs for the police was also the person who had broken into his son’s house. “Who is this guy?” he asked.

Police Chief Stuart Thomas acknowledged that criminal informants “frequently” have criminal records, but he would say nothing about the informant in question. Beyond that, the chief said, the department was investigating the shooting.

Blakley and his brother requested a meeting with Little Rock police. Besides answers, they were seeking the return of Glenn’s personnel effects. They did not get Glenn’s Phillies jacket, other clothes or his cell phone. But they were given copies of five Little Rock police information reports that were dated the night of the shooting.

The reports identify the three officers in the truck, and mention another, unidentified “subject” — presumably the informant — who was said to have been “buying narcotics for det.” According to all the statements, Glenn was “unknown” to the four men involved.

The reports are scant and superficial. They refer cryptically to other reports. Even so, some contradict Hastings’ accounts.

Hastings said that after the detectives saw Glenn shooting at the informant, two of them left the truck, fired at Glenn and missed. But, according to three of the reports, all three of the officers got out of the truck. And, while one officer is named in two accounts as having fired at Glenn, those same accounts named different officers as being the other one who fired.

Hastings declined to discuss the discrepancies in his own or other reports, or to offer further information about the shooting, noting that the investigation remained open. He said, however, that the situation was “pretty simple.”

“Anytime you have someone shooting at another person,” he observed, “police are justified in firing.”

Blakley realizes that. At the same time, he mistrusts the secrecy and conflicting accounts that surround his son’s death. Considering that the man Glenn confronted was working for the police, that the men who shot Glenn were police, that the investigation of the shooting is being conducted by the same police department, and that the names of none of the men involved are being released by police, Blakley sees little hope of objectivity or public scrutiny. “They told one story and then they told another story,” he complained. “How the police going to police the police station?”

‘I heard bang-bang-bang-bang’

As of this writing, Blakley and Dickerson both said that no one from the Little Rock Police Department had contacted them to ask about Glenn or why he’d accosted the informant. A man who lives at the corner of 16th and Cedar streets, where the shooting occurred — and who witnessed the immediate aftermath of the shooting — said he had not been contacted since that night, either.

James Hughes said he was sitting in his kitchen reading his Bible when he heard shooting erupt outside. He remembered it came in two bursts. “I heard bang-bang-bang-bang, something like that, then again, bang-bang-bang-bang. There was a little interval in between.” He did not recall hearing anyone shout, “Police!”

Hughes said that on the night of the shooting, an officer asked him what he had seen. He said no investigator had questioned him since then.

Yet, police and city officials say that two investigations have been conducted. City Attorney Tom Carpenter explained that one would be conducted by the police department’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID). The results of that investigation would be turned over to Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley, who would then decide whether to charge anyone with a crime. The second investigation would be conducted by the police department’s Internal Affairs Division (IAD).

On Feb. 9, Hastings said that the CID investigation was complete, except for a final autopsy report from the medical examiner’s office, and that the file had been sent to Jegley’s office. He said no one had been suspended or fired as a result of either investigation.

Asked if it was fair to assume, then, that the department had found no wrong-doing on the part of the officers involved, Hastings said, “That would be a fair assumption.”

If Jegley agrees and decides that no charges are warranted, the CID case file will be opened — to a point. Neither the names of the men who shot Glenn, nor the name of the informant, will be released.

Blakley cannot imagine a public report on a shooting in which the names of everyone but the dead man are redacted. And if the informant’s identity is blacked out, he wonders if his criminal record will be too.

Blakley would like to know if the informant had a record of burglary; if he had charges of burglary pending, and if police knew of any connection between their informant and the break-ins at Glenn’s house. He thinks those are reasonable questions to ask about the man who figured so centrally, yet so obscurely, in his son’s death.

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