Montgomery City Council Apologizes for 1975 Shooting; Family Not Satisfied

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By Jessica Gertler

Nearly four decades later, a family receives an apology from the city after their loved one was mistakenly shot by a police officer.

In 1975, Bernard Whitehurst was mistakenly shot and killed by a Montgomery police officer, who thought he was a robbery suspect. Now, the city is expressing its dismay and sorrow, but family members say it's not enough.

After nearly forty years of silence, Montgomery city leaders apologized for the wrongful death of Bernard Whitehurst leaving family members in disbelief.

"I was very emotional. A very little shaken," says Whitehurst's son, Stacy Whitehurst.

On December 2, 1975, Whitehurst was shot and killed by a Montgomery police officer. At the time, the officer claimed Whitehurst fired at police while fleeing a robbery on West Jeff Davis Avenue.
But it turned out, they had the wrong man and had planted a gun by his body.

While the cover-up caused several city leaders to resign, no apologies were ever given until tonight.

"We've take a gigantic step, and it was all unanimous," says Strange.

City leaders also announced they're creating a historical marker for Whitehurst and are finding out if it's legal to compensate the family for their loss.

While Whitehurst's sons say that's a step in the right direction, they aren't completely satisfied.

Whitehurst's son, Bernard Whitehurst III, says what's missing is "the apology for saying, 'I'm sorry for what happened.'"

They say city leaders never uttered the two most important words.

"I was just really looking for the words I'm sorry," says Stacy Whitehurst.

And when asked what their father would think of the apology: "Looking down from above, what I would think he would say. Just for them to do the right thing. Make this family whole," says Stacy Whitehurst.

Mayor Strange says in the coming week, they will host a formal event for the family, and give them the framed apology.

He also says the city is still deciding where to put the historical marker, but says it may be close to the scene or Memorial Park.

 

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