Family, friends of Charleston man shot to death question police actions

Thursday, November 10, 2011

CHARLESTON, Mo. -- The family and neighbors of a man killed by police Tuesday in Charleston criticized officers for their handling of the situation.

According to witnesses at the scene, the victim is Murry Lee Asberry, 34, who was shot by a Charleston police officer.

Hundreds of Charleston residents remained near the scene hours after the shooting, many visibly upset. Family members and neighbors are questioning why Asberry was shot after police used a stun gun on him twice.

"I saw when he hit the ground," said a witness who asked to remain anonymous. "They tased him first then they shot him twice."

Neighborhood residents said Asberry was mentally ill and on medication but described him as being harmless.

"They murdered that boy," said Lucille Clark, 51, of Charleston.

Robert Hearnes, director of the Charleston Department of Public Safety, was unavailable for comment Wednesday morning.

The only information released by the department early on was that the investigation is being handled by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and that Hearnes was in a meeting.

According to trooper C.D. Parrott, public information officer for the patrol's Troop E, Charleston Department of Public Safety officers responded to a report of a mentally disturbed man at about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

"Apparently he threw a big rock at the police cruiser and busted the spotlight and the windshield," Parrott said.

Asberry then reportedly fled into a house near the intersection of South Locust and West Market streets.

Parrott said Asberry had a sword when he ran out of the house.

"He swung the sword at chief Hearnes, who managed to deflect it," Parrott said. "He's got a couple of nicks on his hand."

Charleston police officers responded by hitting Asberry twice with a stun gun.

Parrott said the stun gun was not effective as Asberry stood back up and made an aggressive move toward the officers, at which time the shots were fired.

Asberry's sister, Naomi Wince, 47, said she was there, asking her brother to come out of the house. She said Asberry eventually ran into the street where police used a stun gun on him and then shot him.

"I heard the gunshots," Wince said.

Other members of the community were critical of the way the department handled the volatile situation as a school bus was unloading children nearby.

"My 5-year-old granddaughter saw this man out there dying," said a man who declined to identify himself.

Pertinent address:

Charleston, MO

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