Family, city officials dispute events of fatal shooting near Montgomery hotel

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 10:34 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - There was high drama Wednesday at the steps of the Alabama Supreme Court. The attorney representing the family of Gary Moncrief demanded Montgomery police hand over evidence in a police officer-involved shooting that left Moncrief dead on May 18 near the Microtel Inn & Suites.

The news conference also included the car with at least three bullet holes, the very Nissan in which Moncrief died. Moncrief was 32 years old.

Gary Moncrief's family and lead attorney speak out on the Alabama Supreme Court steps today in...
Gary Moncrief's family and lead attorney speak out on the Alabama Supreme Court steps today in Montgomery.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

“He didn’t deserve that. He didn’t deserve it,” said Benita Moncrief, Gary Moncrief’s aunt.

Raw pain, raw emotions.

“Shots were fired. We all know. We witnessed this. We wouldn’t even be here. We wouldn’t be here. Let’s really be honest. We wouldn’t be here if shots came out of that car,” said Benita Moncrief.

Moncrief’s family says he was not armed the night in which he died inside this vehicle.

“And Gary is now inside of the automobile. The officer hops out of his SUV, raises his rifle and begins shooting into the automobile. You can see from the video, Gary slumps over into his mother’s lap and takes his final breath,” said lead family attorney Michael Strickland.

Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finely says Moncrief was wanted for kidnapping and reckless endangerment, a situation that started early on the morning of May 18 and ended around 8 p.m. near the Microtel Inn & Suites. The following is what the chief told the media, including WSFA 12 News, on the night of May 18.

“An exchange of gunfire took place. At that time the, shortly thereafter, we secured the scene. The suspect was pronounced. We contact SBI. SBI’s going to take on the investigation,” Finley said at the scene on May 18.

If you’re wondering why this news conference was held on the steps of the Alabama Supreme Court, Strickland says they did it for safety reasons because there’ve been threats, but Strickland declined to elaborate.

Gary Moncrief's family and lead attorney speak out on the Alabama Supreme Court steps today in...
Gary Moncrief's family and lead attorney speak out on the Alabama Supreme Court steps today in Montgomery.(Source: Gary Moncrief's family)

Strickland says the video he saw was from the Microtel surveillance camera. In the news conference Wednesday, Strickland called for MPD to hand over body cameras and dash cameras.

Moments after Moncrief’s family’s news conference, the city held its own, countering many of the claims that were given by Strickland. Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey and Mayor Steven Reed spoke at City Hall. Both were on the scene the night of the shooting.

Bailey gave the details of that day, saying it started that morning when Montgomery police responded to a residence after a 911 call stating a man identified as Moncrief kidnapped a woman.

Authorities say the victim had a restraining order against Moncrief. Police say they found the victim just after 8 p.m. after she was able to escape. She told police that Moncrief was at the Microtel Inn & Suites off Atlanta Highway.

According to Bailey, when officers confronted him, Moncrief shot and killed himself.

“Based on the statements the Mr. Moncrief had made to the original victim in this case that he was going to commit suicide or that he was not going back to jail, the medical examiner, based on those injuries and based on those statements, has ruled this case a suicide,” Bailey said.

Reed alleged that Strickland purposely chose to hold the press conference on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death. He called it a reckless measure.

“I do want Mr. Strickland and anyone associated with him to know that when you try to exploit the racial divisions that exist in this country for your own profit, there are consequences of that. And we will use the full weight of this office to make sure, whether it is a countersuit to you and your partner, or whether it is to file a challenge with the bar of Alabama for ethical issues that you have chosen to ignore where this is concerned, we will do that,” said Reed.

After the city’s press conference, Strickland sent this rebuttal statement:

“Attorney Dwayne Brown and I have practiced law for a combined 54 years and we have had the privilege to represent victims not only in the great state of Alabama but also around the country. Consistently therewith, Attorney Brown and I have never been accused of engaging in unethical conduct for our personal gain.

Prior to calling the press conference, on May 20, 2021, Attorney Strickland requested the City of Montgomery provide dash cam and body cam of the incident leading to the death of Gary Moncrief. No response was received from the City of Montgomery until today, May 26, 2021, at 10:02 a.m. As indicated at the press conference, I observed the available video of Mr. Moncrief’s unfortunate killing and the three occupants who were in the vehicle at the time of the tragic shooting explained in consistent detail that Mr. Moncrief was shot and killed by an unidentified Montgomery police officer. It is customary and reasonable for attorneys to trust what they see on video and to believe clients who testify consistent to what is shown on video.

Attorney Brown and I have profound respect for the citizens of Montgomery and its leadership. Therefore, we would never attempt to bring unnecessary disrepute or cause civil unrest in the City of Montgomery. We are profoundly disappointed that Mayor Reed has chosen to attack us personally and, amongst other things, refer to us as “pimps” and “hustlers.” Interestingly, Attorney Brown and I supported Mayor Reed in his mayoral bid for the City of Montgomery. The conduct displayed by Mayor Reed is beneath the dignified office of the Mayor of the City of Montgomery.

In closing, we are committed to seeking the absolute truth in the death of Gary Moncrief and irrespective of the Mayor’s personal attack against us, we will not respond in like kind due to our respect for the profession of law and the citizens of Montgomery, Alabama. This is the very reason why we asked for an independent investigation by the Department of Justice—to avoid any ambiguity pertaining to the death of Gary Moncrief.”

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