The family of a 21-year-old Tulsa man shot and paralyzed by a security guard on February 4, 2015 says that guard was high on marijuana at the time.
They say because the guard, Ricky Stone, had marijuana and prescription drugs in his system the night he shot Monroe Bird, III, he should've been charged in the shooting.
Attorneys for Bird's family announced at a Tuesday news conference they are filing a lawsuit. They said the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office didn't file charges because the office claimed Stone was protected by the Stand Your Ground law, which allows a citizen to use deadly force if he feels his life is threatened.
The attorneys say that law does not apply in this case because Stone is the one who was breaking the law by having pot in his backpack inside his truck.
"He was shot as he was driving away, unjustly and unnecessarily, and it caused his death," attorney Demario Soloman-Simmons said.
Tulsa Police said Bird was in his car with a 15-year-old girl and when the security guard confronted them, Bird first tried to back over the guard. They say the guard was knocked on top of the trunk and that's when he fired. Police say Bird put the car into drive when a bullet hit him in the neck and paralyzed him instantly.
Monroe Bird died on June 30.
The family's attorneys Bird was trying to escape, and based on the level of drugs in Stone's system, he should've been charged with a crime.
"He had 6.8 nanograms of marijuana in his system. We know in the two states, Colorado and Washington, the only two states that allow marijuana to be legal, if they have 5 nanograms, it's considered impairment. He had 6.8," said Solomon-Simmons.
"It was at least four hours after the shooting the blood was actually tested. We believe he was very intoxicated and we don't understand why the Tulsa County DA, who has had this information since June 26, has not moved on that information," he said.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said when he looked at the case, he had to consider whether the facts would support proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
He said there is no standard in Oklahoma for drugs like marijuana and he can't use standards set by other states. Kunzweiler said if the legislature would set a standard here it would make his job a lot easier.
Police said at no time did Stone appear to be intoxicated and experts say blood tests alone are not enough to determine if someone is impaired from marijuana because it stays in the system for so long.
Kunzweiler said it's a sad case, but if Bird hadn't made the decision to back over Stone that night would be different. He said Bird's decision put Stone in a position where he had to defend himself.
Attorneys plan to file a lawsuit on behalf of Bird's family in the near future.
The DA says Bird's family has every right to pursue this case in civil court where the burden of proof is much lower. He says the evidence in this case supports the guard's actions.
Kunzweiler also said he can't discuss any testing on the case, but Tulsa Police never indicated to him Stone was acting intoxicated that night in any way.
State Senator Kevin Matthews said he will introduce legislation next year to increase the screening and training security guards receive before they can carry a gun.
The pursuit of justice is not limited to the criminal court system. In evaluating this case, I have to be mindful of the burden of proof - beyond a reasonable doubt - and the objective facts. Monroe Bird’s family has hired a civil law firm and they have every right to pursue their action in civil court where the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence. An important aspect of this case involves Oklahoma’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law. The objective evidence supports Mr. Stone’s actions, which resulted in the tragedy which befell Mr. Bird. I am not at liberty to discuss the specifics of any criminal forensics testing on any case. I can point out, based upon reports provided to my office from the Tulsa Police Department, not one person who interacted with Mr. Stone indicated in any report that Mr. Stone appeared to be impaired by alcohol or any drug. As I have stated previously, this is not a closed case. I encourage Mr. Bird’s family to pursue whatever civil remedies they believe they have available to them. Their attorneys know where my office is and they have been told the door is always open. And while other states have a “per se” standard for drugs in a person’s system, there is no similar standard for drugs like marijuana in Oklahoma. I cannot apply another state’s standard to Oklahoma. It’s not the law in this state. That is an issue for the legislature to address. If the law is changed to adopt a per se standard for certain drugs, my job might be a lot easier. It’s a very sad case. If decisions made by Mr. Bird at the scene had been different, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Some of his decisions put Mr. Stone into the position where he had to defend himself.