Police in the small Alabama town of Dothan shot and killed an unarmed white man Tuesday who resisted arrest after refusing to show ID when turning in a stray animal to an animal shelter.
Robert Lawrence, who police say called himself a ‘sovereign citizen’ but which his lawyer disputes, was reportedly accompanied by a woman and children at the time.
Dothan First reported Lawrence became ‘combative’ when asked to produce identification at the animal shelter. Police reportedly first tazed Lawrence to no effect, he was then shot in the abdomen. There is no mention of Lawrence being armed.
Lawrence was taken to the hospital where he died Tuesday night.
The Dothan Eagle reported the Alabama State Bureau of Investigations is reviewing the shooting death.
Dothan First reported Lawrence had a troubled history, having served ninety days in jail this year for making “Harassing Communications.”
Lawrence’s attorney Terry Bullard called the killing of his client “needless” but did not fault the officer who shot Lawrence.
““He never threatened to kill anyone,” said Dothan attorney Terry Bullard who represented Lawrence in several legal matters including the terror threat charge. Bullard said his client was upset because DHR had taken his three children.
“Bullard believe the shooting could have been avoided calling it “needless.” However, he doesn’t fault the police officer who he calls a “professional.” WDHN/DothanFirst.com is not making the name of the officer public at this time. “It’s sad for Lawrence’s family as well as the officer,” Bullard said.
“He admits Lawrence often challenged authority though Bullard rejects the notion he was a sovereign citizen as claimed by police. “He was also respectable toward others and I considered him a friend as well as a client,” Bullard said.”
WWNT-AM published a statement on the shooting by the Dothan police chief.
“On December 30, 2014 the Dothan Police Department responded to a disorderly conduct complaint which ended in an officer involved shooting. Following standard procedures, the investigation into the incident will be handled by the ALEA State Bureau of Investigation. However, Dothan Police are able to comment on the events which precipitated the shooting.
“At approximately 12:30 pm officers made contact with Robert Lawrence at the Dothan City Animal Shelter after he attempted to turn a stray animal over to an employee. Lawrence, a sovereign citizen, became disorderly after being told he could not leave the animal without producing identification. After repeatedly being told to calm down, Lawrence was advised he was being placed under arrest. A physical altercation ensued, to which Lawrence was shot in the abdomen.
“Lawrence was transported to the Southeast Alabama Medical Center where he has been treated for the gunshot wound and listed in critical condition. The ALEA State Bureau of Investigation quickly responded to the scene and will handle the investigation by request of the Dothan Police Department.
“The Dothan Police Department would like to thank everyone who assisted with this incident including the ALEA State Bureau of Investigation, the Houston County Sheriffs Office and the Dothan Fire Department.
“Gregory J. Benton
“Chief of Police”
There have been no protests, no riots and no national media coverage over the death of the unarmed white man Robert Lawrence at the hands of police.