Published: Sept. 7, 2021
By: Liz Ryan And Rachel Mipro, LSU Manship School News Service
Third in a four-part series
More than six decades ago a grand jury assembled to hear a grisly case. Four Black men had been shot to death and a fifth seriously wounded in a hail of gunfire on Ticheli Road near Monroe, Louisiana.
The all-white grand jury would do something in character for the segregated South of the early 1960s, finding that the white shooter had acted in self-defense. Later that day, the panel made another decision that also says a lot about the justice system back then: It charged the lone survivor with attempting to murder the white man.
“That’s when the justice system just gets flipped on its head, which it did so many times in these cases,” said former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, who in 2001 and 2002 prosecuted two Klansmen in the 1963 bombing of a church in Birmingham that killed four Black girls.
The FBI has compared the scale of the killings in Monroe to that bombing.
Jones and other criminal justice experts said the self-defense claim of the shooter, Robert Fuller, does not add up.
“It made no sense,” he said, after reviewing U.S. Justice Department documents on the case and other evidence provided by the LSU Cold Case Project.
Jones said it was common then for law enforcement to “try to protect those who committed the crime, to try to put the onus on the victims or their community.”
Damon T. Hewitt, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a group based in Washington, D.C., went even further in criticizing how the case was handled.
Read more at Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting