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ACLU of Arkansas demands independent review after man dies in police custody

The ACLU demands systemic reforms to policing, an independent review, and a statewide standards board.

CONWAY, Ark. — The ACLU of Arkansas is demanding systemic reforms to policing, an independent review of police use of deadly force, and a statewide standards board to take complaints from the public about police misconduct.

The demands come following the prosecution's decision to not file charges against the police officers involved in the death of Lionel Morris, a man who died while in custody of the Conway Police Department.

Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas interim executive director and legal director, made a state that reads, in part:

“Lionel Morris’s killing at the hands of Conway police officers is an unacceptable and tragic reminder of the deadly toll that police violence constantly takes on communities of color . . . If law enforcement agencies cannot keep people safe, then they should not exist in their current form. We stand in solidarity with Morris’s family and loved ones, and will continue to demand the transformational reform that’s needed to stop the bloodshed and save Black lives.”

According to the ACLU, a 2019 study found that police are now a leading cause of death among American men overall, with Black men 2.5 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than white men. 

The ACLU says policing remains among the rare professions without a statewide licensing board empowered to receive and act on complaints from the public.

Bodycam footage of Morris' death: