Crime

Man shot by Fort Worth police may have lived if taken to hospital sooner, lawyer says

Attorney Lee Merritt on Amari Malone’s death

Lee Merritt, an attorney representing the family of Amari Malone, talks about the 18-year-old Fort Worth man's death after he was shot by a police officer.
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Lee Merritt, an attorney representing the family of Amari Malone, talks about the 18-year-old Fort Worth man's death after he was shot by a police officer.

The man fatally shot by Fort Worth police Wednesday may have lived if he’d been taken to a hospital sooner, the lawyer for the man’s family said Thursday.

Amari Malone, an 18-year-old from Fort Worth, died after being shot by police when Malone pointed a handgun at officers, Police Chief Ed Kraus said. Body camera footage released by the Fort Worth Police Department at a press conference showed Malone running with a handgun and appearing to point it at police.

Officers fired multiple rounds at Malone, and the 18-year-old was shot once. Police said officers approached Malone because he was a person of interest in a homicide case.

Lee Merritt, a Dallas-based civil rights attorney, said he received a call from Malone’s mother on Wednesday and agreed to represent the family. Merritt held a press conference Thursday afternoon in Dallas.

“The family is not looking to blame anybody for what happened,” he said. “They just want answers.”

Malone recently became a father — the baby’s mother gave birth 10 days ago.

Merritt said Malone did not get to the hospital for over an hour after he was shot at about 5:45 p.m. on Boca Raton Boulevard in east Fort Worth. Merritt also questioned why Malone was taken to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, which is a trauma two center and farther away than John Peter Smith Hospital, which is a trauma one center.

JPS Hospital is 13 minutes away from Boca Raton Boulevard, and Harris Hospital is 14 minutes away, according to Google Maps.

Merritt said he and the family believe the injury was one Malone could have recovered from if he had been treated by doctors sooner.

MedStar ambulance service said Malone arrived at the hospital within an hour of being shot. The following is a timeline of Malone’s treatment according to MedStar:

  • Received call at 5:48 p.m.
  • Allowed into the scene at 5:52 p.m.
  • Started treating Malone at 5:56 p.m.
  • Left for hospital at 6:13 p.m.
  • Arrived at hospital at 6:26 p.m.
  • Pronounced dead at 6:58 p.m,, according to Tarrant County medical examiner.

Police and MedStar said Malone received medical attention from first responders at the scene of the shooting before being taken to the hospital.

A patient should be taken to a hospital within an hour of a traumatic injury, according to MedStar.

Video released day after shooting

Officers began looking for Malone to question him about an Aug. 5 homicide and heard he was in the Woodhaven area on Wednesday, Fort Worth police said. When they tried to speak with him, he ran, drew a gun from his waistband, and pointed the gun at officers, Kraus said.

While Merritt said the video shows Malone did have a gun, he said it does not definitively prove Malone was pointing the gun at or threatening officers. He also criticized Fort Worth police’s editing of the video. In the footage shown at Thursday’s press conference, the video was edited to freeze and zoom in on the gun in Malone’s hand.

Merritt said he has seen this technique misused before and wants the video objectively reviewed by people who are not in law enforcement.

Merritt also commended Fort Worth police for releasing the body cam footage of Malone’s shooting, but said police should not only release footage when they “believe it can quash false information or put their office in a positive light.”

“It should be done in every case,” he said.

Malone’s shooting marks the sixth time since June 1 a Fort Worth police officer has shot a civilian. Five of those people died. Merritt said for a city of Fort Worth’s size, those stats are troubling.

“There are times in this occupation of a police officer where deadly force is necessary. It should be a lot more rare than it is,” Merritt said.

The homicide in which Malone was a person of interest happened Aug. 5 on Las Vegas Trail, Kraus said. He said Malone was seen with a pistol at the scene where 24-year-old Ja’Waylon Gay was shot and killed.

Merritt said at Thursday’s press conference that Malone started carrying a gun after he was shot in the leg about a month ago. He also said members of the community said they know who killed Gay, and it was not Malone.

Bonnell Juvi, Malone’s older brother, said Malone wasn’t known to carry a gun and he doesn’t believe he could have committed a homicide.

Malone, a Dunbar High School graduate, was “a young black kid getting his act together” after becoming a father last week, Juvi said. Malone was the youngest of five children, his brother said.

Juvi found out about the shooting Wednesday evening and rushed to JPS Hospital, he said, but was told to go to Harris Methodist Hospital, where Malone died.

There, he saw around 60 police officers outside and at least 100 people waiting inside to see Malone, he said. He didn’t get a chance to see him.

“Eventually, stuff like this has got to stop ... It’s just like an ongoing thing, like over and over and over. They keep pulling young people from out of the community,” Juvi said.

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Kaley Johnson is a breaking news and enterprise reporter. She majored in investigative reporting at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has a passion for bringing readers in-depth, complex stories that will impact their lives. Send your tips via email or Twitter.
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