October 11th, 2012
01:07 PM ET

Lawyer: South Alabama student killed after police used unnecessary force

A University of South Alabama student was killed after campus police used deadly force that could have been avoided, a lawyer for the student's family said after viewing surveillance video of the incident.

Authorities in Mobile have been investigating why the officer shot and killed an 18-year-old freshman who they say was naked and acting erratically outside the campus police station early Saturday.

The man, later identified as Gilbert Thomas Collar of Wetumpka, Alabama, repeatedly rushed and verbally challenged the officer in a fighting stance, the school said.

The family attorney, Jere Beasley, says, "without reservation, there is nothing on the surveillance tape that justifies the use of deadly force."

"The officer comes out of the building with his gun out of his holster," he added. "It took place over 20 or 30 seconds."

Beasley said the student was unarmed and was shot and killed by an officer who should have had access to pepper spray and a baton.

"Something happened that caused him to act in an unusual, distressed manner," Beasley said. "The fact he came to the police station indicates he was not necessarily looking for trouble. In fact, I think he was looking for help."

Campus police immediately contacted the district attorney's office to request an external investigation, and the Mobile County Sheriff's Department will assist, the school said.

The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending internal and external investigations, the school said.

School spokesman Keith Ayers called it a "campus tragedy" for the university family but offered no other details, citing the investigation.

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. James Bond

    Well, he got the immediate problem solved, heck he got them all solved!

    October 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. James Bond

    I wonder what kind of education this cop had, and what they paid him, both are laughable i'd bet

    October 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Portland tony

    Yah never know until all the facts are in!

    October 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hide Behind

    @jimmy bond.
    Typical elitist remark. what and the heck does ones educational level "IN THE REAL WORLD" have to do with the mental reaction of those who kill another human.
    Education is not the cure all to worlds ills and some of worlds best known serial killers have high formal educational attainments.
    If anything it seems that those who have gone through highest levels of US educational establishments are the ones who find means to justfy taking others lives far more readily than those of lower.
    This government of well educated. elected. technocrats and bureaucrats, financial scholastic and scientific. live and help support thr bloodiest nation on earth.
    Meanwhile a vast majority of self proclaimed educated sit and argue over how many angels can fit on head of pin.

    October 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    The kid was naked; clearly he was unarmed.
    He also stood about 5'7 and weighed 135; clearly he wasn't a ginormous menacing hulk...
    Details are still sketchy, though.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Concerned South Alabama Mom

    I am the mother of a student at South Alabama. I am extremely upset about this tragedy. Yes this student used bad judgement in choosing to use LSD but this should not have cost him his life. A local news report stated the officers are not issued tasers. I think in dealing with this age group that a taser would be issued first. I know that these are trained officers but their day to day jobs are dealing with minor incidents. Most of it is speeding,parking tickets,theft,loud partying, drugs and underage drinking.So shouldn't a taser be a basic piece of equipment! All the local police in the area have tasers and use them. There have been numerous instances where they have been used to subdued people under the influence of drugs! Recently a half naked woman uder the influence of drugs was subdued by use of a taser after running and trying to attack 2 police officers with a knife. Yes there were 2 officers but she was armed and they tried another means to control her before shooting her to death.My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the student and the police officer and his family. I hope that South will buy the police department the equipment and training they need even if it means cutting back on football program's budget so another tragedy can be avoided.

    October 11, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • roltyd

      The student under the influence of LSD had reportedly attacked two other people and tried to bite the arm of yet another person, a woman. Details are still sketchy, but as a father of a student there, and also as an alumnus of USA, i do know that peole under the influence of such powerful drugs can seem to be invincible in their minds, and if angry, can display bursts of strength and energy. I believe the officer had a right to defend himself, and thus, the campus, which is his job. However, I, too, feel he shold have been armed with less threatening means of force, such as a taser and/or pepper spray, and a baton/billy club. Perhaps, he could have shot the naked student in the hip, which may have immobilized him. But, I understand that, after he was shot in the chest, he got back up and continued to resist. As far as legal counselors are concerned, they are nothing more than comissioned sales people of the legal system, and seemingly incite public outrage and divisiveness with their public accusations. I believe their comments should be reserved for the courtroom, judge and jury, because all too often, people rush to judgement based upon these accusations.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hide Behind

    What tragedy? A young adult. not a child bears full responability in this matter, not the police officer.
    If there was a victim it will most likely be the taxpayer picking up the tab for the idiot on drugs.
    Excessive force is an issue but there are rules of engagement in all police departments and if in this case they decide those rules were broken then the officer should not just be suspended but tried at least for criminal negligence and the suit then brought against them.
    In years past it was only social welfare brats that were juveniles till mid twenties. they were wards of the state, and allowed to stay on the teat until weaned.
    They had an excuse of coming from broken homes.., dysfunctional family or mental deficiencies, is that why parents and society puts up with what used to be men and women but now never grow up always depending on others make life easier and to protect them when they act juvenile.
    Crankers meth heads and heroin junkies do not deserve molly coddling by society at largeBut then of course that would mean a society of adults not wards of the state.

    October 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      "The idiot on drugs" is DEAD, therefore taxpayers picking up a tab is moot.
      Apparently you missed that in the story.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TBT

    An External Investigation? With the DA and Sheriff? How about an objective de-conflicted investigation?

    This country desperately needs citizen review boards to decide on these types of cases with the ever increasing police brutality and killings (of citizens).

    October 12, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. Hide Behind

    Yes the idiot is dead but the lawyer sees possability of cash.
    What committees you talking about? Impartial hardly ever. The people want security from the bad guys. I sat on one such for two weeks. only two white guys and the other being ex military at times wanted to shoot people on the committee and the rest did not give a damn who got shot or beat as long as it was not of their own ethnicity.
    Cops playing it big crime area when one of lowest in states.. suburb of moderate wealth. and when one cop said gang bangers walking streets with Uzis in pockets, I asked how thw heck deep were their pockets and reminded him no such weapons had been used in any crime eccept on local military base vommitte members told me to shut up and I did. I quit.
    Pipulace does not want truth they want hype for own self and screw truth. Half the committee members did mot even understand Bill of rights versus Civil liberties and BS thicker than horse puckys.

    October 12, 2012 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
    • rodger jackson

      I want call anyone an idiot, but why weren't lesser means taken, he was in front of a police station, and I am sure he had self-defense training, What color was the officer and the child.

      September 29, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. saywhat

    This case again draws focus on 'police brutality' and 'excessive force'. Though its right as @Hide behind says that police have their rules of engagement and perhaps go strictly by them. But i'm sure every situation presents options. As @roltyd said the campus cop should also have been armed with less lethal weapon.

    I agree that details are too skechy to form informed opinions.

    October 12, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rascal Rabble

    ...the security guard thought he was a face eating zombie...

    October 12, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |