Family defends shooting victim - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Family defends shooting victim

December 19, 2005

Tallahassee, Florida-- The family of a Thomasville teenager shot and killed by Tallahassee police last month claims his civil rights were violated. Now, they've hired an attorney to help bring some closure in the death of John Frances Hayes, Junior.

There was a strong showing of support Monday morning at a press conference for Hayes. "I'm hoping that justice will be served for the execution of my son," says Hayes' mother, Sandra McIntyre.

It started at Chubby's nightclub in Tallahassee on November 26th. The attorney for Hayes' family says gunfire is a ritual outside the club at closing. "The owner of the car in which John Frances was a passenger discharged a pistol, we believe, four times," says Joseph Weathers.

From the club, officers followed the car Hayes was riding in about two miles to the First Christian Church on High Street. Then, just a few minutes later in the circular driveway of the church annex, the shooting unfolded. "He was unarmed, he had been tased, he had been beaten with a baton," says Weathers.

Those are all non-lethal tactics Tallahassee police say were used in an attempt to control the 17 year old before he ran back to his friend's car. "Chief McNeil gave his remarks on the 28th. Basically, that's all the information we can release at this time, because we don't want to release anything prior to the grand jury," says Tallahassee Police spokesman, John Newland.

In those remarks, TPD Chief Walter McNeil said "Hayes lunged into the vehicle. Officers feared that he was reaching for a weapon and fired on him."

Because of that, Hayes' family is planning to file a civil lawsuit, claiming the four officers, who are now on administrative leave, abused their power. "If this is how they're going to protect our children, I think we need to find another way," says McIntyre. The grand jury will consider that point next month.

Police say a handgun was recovered from the vehicle Hayes was riding in, although they won't reveal where in the vehicle the weapon was located. The car's owner, Rondell Veney, was charged with firing a weapon in public.

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