Family of police killing victim in Archer speaks out
To: Alachua County Sheriff Department, Sheriff Steve Oelrich, Alachua County State Attorney's Office, State Attorneys Rod Smith/Greg MaMahon, Attorney General Bob Butterworth, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Kenneth Moore, FBI: Gainesville/Tallahassee, FL and Washington, DC, Governor Lawton Chiles, Tallahassee, President "Bill" Clinton, Washington, DC.
From: The Robinson/Thompson Families/Community Supporters
CC: Legal Consultants, NAACP, Professional FamilyConsultants, Political Constituents, National Bar Association, National Black Caucus and Black Voices.
Date: July 29, 1998 @ 8:00 a.m.
As independent taxpayers and landowners, originating in Archer, Florida, in 1824, we the Robinson Family of Archer, Alachua County, Florida write "our truths".
As family members of Larry "Pop" Robinson along with our friends and supporters are requesting the State Attorney's Office do an independent investigation into the tragic death of our loved one, Larry Lawrence Robinson. We have reasons to believe that Larry was shot in the back twice or more and killed by Deputy Donny "Hawk" Hawkins as he lay disabled and helpless face down on the ground, which will invalidate the previous communicated media allegations that Deputy Hawkins' life was in immediate danger.
We believe the Alachua County Sheriffs Department, on July 28, 1998, did not have the right to prematurely judge, conclude and decide the status of this killing on national TV by communicating that the shooting death of Larry Lawrence Robinson was justified and nothing would change the position of the ongoing investigation. Furthermore, they reported that it is a constitutional right to shoot an alleged suspect in the back twice, primarily because "he fits the description of a suspect who had taken five packs of cigarettes" who was being pursued, as was reported by the Alachua County Sheriff Department media representatives.
Our witnesses have consistently reported that Larry Lawrence Robinson was pepper sprayed, weakened and confused before he met with a violent, senseless death at the hands of Alachua County's Deputy Donny Hawkins as he fled and tripped into an impenetrable vine like jungle, seeking safety. Tripping in the vines put Larry at his lowest level of resistance; face down on all fours, helpless and confused from being sprayed. We strongly believe that Deputy Donny Hawkins acted irrationally and irresponsibly when he fired close range shots into the back of Larry Lawrence Robinson which killed him, instantly.
We appreciate your cooperation to further investigate the hasty shooting death of Larry Robinson. The law protects citizens, not neglect. No man has the right to place value on a human's life, which resulted in a homicide by a deputy as recorded.
--A close-knit family of professionals and hardworking people.
Liz Jenkins, spokesperson for the family
17904 SW 183rd Avenue
Archer, FL 32618 5084
352 495-2197 voice -- 352 495-1878 message -- 352 495-8313 fax --
September 1, 1998.
Thirty eight days after Larry Robinson was inhumanely killed by Deputy Hawkins, the family is still wondering how a man who represents the law, broke the law as fourteen or more witnesses stood watching in disbelief.
Larry stood about 6 feet weighing in at 160 pounds, deteriorating rapidly from AIDS. Larry was not the perfect man at this stage in his life but whatever Larry did, was Larry's choice. He grew up normal with both parents on a forty acre farm, went to school and church and was surrounded by support from his extended family. I was fortunate enough to be one of his grade school teachers. He was an average student, learning at a normal rate. He was humorous. He holds the record at Archer's St. Joseph Baptist church for rejoining the most. He would come back to church but would not stay. His intent was to do what he knew to be the right thing. In spite of his chosen lifestyle we loved him still. His activities did not diminish our love and concern for him.
I have not missed a day from working on the remnants of Pop's death. When I listened to Sheriff Steve Oelrich prematurely make the statement, "The killing was justifiable, Deputy Donny Hawkins would return to work and there was no need to further investigate," it tore at my heart and soul. I was instantly overcome with uncontrollable emotions, taking me back to the Rosewood Massacre of 1923, when my Aunt Mahulda Gussie Brown Carrier's father in law, James Carrier, who was also sick from having suffered two strokes, was shot twice in the back and the shooting was "justified." This was the same scenario different setting. The entire mob was exonerated. This took me back in time. That decision was ludicrous. I have written a book, "I, Too, Lived Rosewood", and at the very moment, I lived Rosewood again. This is Rosewood all over again.
I was certain the Grand Jury would find the deputy guilty, but was not surprised when they didn't because I know that the system works for the system. I plan to lobby to get the Grand Jury to reveal the documents of its secret or hidden agenda. If the witnesses said to the Grand Jury what they said to me that they told them, then I can't understand what went wrong.
My family and I will continue to work on Pop's case because Pop lives on in our souls. His murder will not be forgotten just because twenty plus people said it was justified. Everyone knows that it could have been handled differently. Several officers of the law and community activists have given us the thumbs up sign to continue. The NAACP has been very supportive and we are continuing our cause. Stay tuned for the next article in the Iguana. Each of the departments has been cooperative in getting all needed information for our research. They have been very helpful. We have collected all of the investigative reports and pictures. When I looked at those pictures and saw where Larry was shot in the back at close range, I could almost feel pain in seeing those pictures. It was very pain-stricken to see the wounds. He was shot twice in the back. One shot was fired in the upper right shoulder and the other was fired in the mid to lower back. He was not shot in the side as indicated on TV. The pictures and information is available to the public.
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