Shot as he emerged from a hiding spot with his hands up.
The Illinois State Police will take over the death investigation of Mark Anthony Barmore, the 23-year-old who was shot and killed by two Rockford police officers Monday.
The state investigation comes at the request of Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato, who announced his intentions to seek an external investigation today during a morning news conference.
“It has become clear that the community and the matter itself is requiring an independent investigation be conducted,” Bruscato said. “I believe in order for this process to be completed and have the community have confidence in the results, this is necessary.
“I am confident the Illinois State Police will take all appropriate and relevant information into account when they conduct their investigation.”
The move marks the first time in at least a decade that state investigators have been asked to intercede in a shooting that involves a Rockford police officer. Barmore was shot after officers Oda Poole and Stanton North chased him into House of Grace Daycare and Preschool, which is housed at Kingdom Authority International Ministries, 518 N. Court St.
Police have said that Barmore went after one of the officers’ weapons, but two day care workers have said that Barmore did not go after the gun and was shot as he emerged from a hiding spot with his hands up.
Since then, there has been public outcry for outside investigators to handle the case, including a downtown march on Friday to the police station and City Hall.
“It’s clear while historically the Rockford Police Department has investigated these matters themselves to conclusion, the time has come to move in a different direction and have a different protocol,” Bruscato said.
Rockford police Chief Chet Epperson did not return several calls today from the Register Star. The chief did not attend Bruscato’s news conference at the Winnebago County Justice Center. Deputy Police Chief Greg Lindmark represented the city.
Bruscato was also joined by Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen; Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers; Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford; State Rep. Chuck Jefferson, D-Rockford; State Rep. Jim Sacia, R-Pecatonica; and Deputy State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite-Ross.
Meyers said the Sheriff’s Department works closely with Rockford police, and he supports going outside the county for help.
Bruscato said he decided late Saturday night to ask for an external investigation into the shooting. He said his announcement had nothing to do with the arrival in Rockford of the Rev. Jesse Jackson other than for purely logistical purposes.
“This is something we’ve been talking about on Friday, and I met with several area leaders on Saturday about going to the state police,” Bruscato said. “I was aware of the schedule of the Rev. Jackson, but the announcement had nothing to do with that, other than to make sure we didn’t schedule ours for the same time he was planning to speak.”
Mayor Larry Morrissey, who did not attend Bruscato’s news conference but met privately with Jackson and other officials Sunday said, all parties involved have the same interests.
“I think we have a lot of shared goals that we have the best investigation possible, the most credible investigation as possible,” Morrissey said.
After the investigation is complete, it will then be handed over to the state’s attorney’s office, which would then decide whether to present it to a grand jury.
“Right now I would be reluctant to say that is exactly what we are going to do because I think it would be inappropriate until the investigation is in front of me to make that decision,” Bruscato said.
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