Pubdate: Wed, 03 Dec 2003
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2003 The Decatur Daily
Author: Holly Hollman


ATHENS - The mother of an Athens police informant shot to death last
year is suing police officials.

A grand jury indicted John David Brown, 32, of 217971 Elkton Road, for
murder in the shooting death of his roommate, Anthony "Tony" McLemore,
31, on Aug. 20, 2002. A trial date is not set.

McLemore's mother, Sylvia Vaughn, alleges in a civil rights lawsuit
filed Nov. 13 in U.S. District Court that her son's death was due to
indifference by the Athens Police Department.

Brown told investigators that he was frightened because McLemore was
involved with drugs and people were looking for him, Limestone County
Sheriff's Department Chief Investigator Stanley McNatt said.

Sheriff Mike Blakely said Brown used a 20-gauge shotgun he had
borrowed from McLemore's stepfather and shot McLemore below the eye.
He told investigators the gun fired accidentally. Blakely said Brown
gave a neighbor the gun, called 911 and waited for

As jailers booked Brown, he told reporters, "I did what I had to

Vaughn's suit says that McLemore was on probation for drug possession
when officer Trevor Harris arrested him Aug. 18 for drug possession.
In exchange for leniency, Harris and detective Lt. Tracy Harrison made
an agreement with McLemore to be an informant and set up Brown, a drug
dealer, according to the suit.

The suit says police released McLemore without charging him even
though his parole officer placed a hold on him. Although narcotics
officers told police Brown would kill McLemore if he discovered his
roommate was setting him up, the document states police proceeded with
the arrangement.

Police did not wire McLemore and did not provide him protection, the
suit says. It names Harris, Harrison, Brown and Police Chief Wayne
Harper as defendants.

Harper is out of the office until Thursday and was unavailable for
comment. Capt. Marty Bruce referred comment to the city attorney who
did not respond to a message left at his office.

After McLemore's death, Harper told the media that McLemore had helped
police make drug cases in the past, and that he agreed to make a drug
buy from a local drug dealer. Harper said when officers released
McLemore they told him he was to go home, get a shower and return to
the police station to set up a drug buy. Harper said police would have
wired him and supervised the buy.

Stephen Strickland, a Birmingham attorney representing Vaughn, said he
has not received a response from the city's attorney, Jerry Batts.

"I expect the city will issue the standard denial," Strickland said,
adding that between filings for discovery, summary judgment and
appeals, it could be a year or longer before the case is tried.
Strickland said his client is not asking for a specific monetary amount.

"That will be up to a jury," he said.

The civil action asks for compensatory and punitive damages, plus
interest and costs, attorneys fees and expenses.

Strickland said Brown's criminal case may have an impact on his part
of the civil action but that it doesn't impact the overall civil
rights case.
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