Family still looking for answers concerning Demetrius Flowers' alleged jail hanging.
CAIRO, Ill. -- A family's clamor for information into the death of a man in Cairo police custody could be met with official silence Saturday during a community meeting.
Mayor Paul Farris, in an interview Tuesday prior to a special session of the Cairo City Council, said he's not sure he'll accept an invitation to attend the meeting organized by the family of Demetrius Flowers.
Family members believe Farris has access to details of Flowers's final hours that they have been denied. Farris suspended three police officers and two police dispatchers without pay on Dec. 19, issuing a statement that department rules and reuglations had been "substantially breached."
Flowers, 38, was found dead Dec. 14 in a holding cell approximately five hours after he was booked for battery and obstructing a police officer. Alexander County, Ill., coroner David Barkett ruled that he died from asphyxiation, apparently as a result of tying his shoelaces around his throat.
The Illinois State Police are investigating the death. That ongoing investigation presents a hurdle that may prevent him from attending the meeting, Farris said.
"I don't know what type of information that would be helpful to them that I could speak of due to this being under investigation," Farris said. "I sympathize with the family. I am sure they want closure as soon as possible."
The meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Holy City Church of God in Christ at 18th Street and Martin Luther King Avenue in Cairo. It is the second meeting organized by the family to keep the death and the need for answers before the public, said Melinda Flowers, sister of Demetrius Flowers.
Family members are becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of official information as time passes, Flowers said.
"We are just trying to get this community together to bring peace to Cairo," Flowers said. "We want to let the community know what is going on and that it can happen to them or one of their loved ones."
The special meeting of the Cairo City Council was quiet, with four members who are feuding with Farris attending. They approved receipt of a grant to pay for demolition of two condemned houses and ended the meeting.
The four council members, Bobby Whitaker, Linda Jackson, Sandra Tarver and Elbert Purchase, said they still have not received their monthly paychecks for January. Farris locked the checks away in a city vault after the four announced they would boycott council meetings.
The four are reviewing their options about obtaining their missed pay, Whitaker said, but have made no decisions. "We have got our feelers out," he said. "Whatever it is, it will be serious."
Farris declined to comment on the pay dispute.