"Nothing has changed since the OK Corral": Tombstone shooting rends community

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"Nothing has changed since the OK Corral": Tombstone shooting rends community

CREATED Oct 9, 2012

Reporter: Marcelino Benito

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - After Saturday morning's officer involved shooting that claimed the life of a 15-year-old boy, rumors are running rampant across Tombstone, a town with a history of policing problems. Frustrated community members want answers and Tombstone's top cop is breaking his silence on the case.

Meanwhile, as the sun set Tuesday night over the town too tough to die, a family prepared to bury a 15-year-old boy's body inside Tombstone Cemetery.

"He was our boy, everyone loved him," said Shirley House, a longtime Tombstone resident. "He was the kindest and the best and most respectful boy I had ever met."

Law enforcement told a different story. They said the 15-year-old broke into a local home and that he had a gun. And Tuesday night, Tombstone Marshal Billy Cloud confirmed to 9OYS that the boy pointed it at a deputy.

"It is never easy to take the life of a human being, but when someone points a gun at you, you don't ask if it's a 15-year-old," Cloud said. "The deputy also has a family he wants to go home to at night. He did the right thing in this situation."

But the problem in Tombstone is trust. The public doesn't trust the Marshal's Office. They're skeptical about the justice system in a town once run by gun-slinging cowboys.

"They make their own laws," House said. "Nothing has changed since the gun fight at the OK Corral right here across the street."

9OYS took those concerns to the Marshal's office for a response. Reporter Marcelino Benito asked Marshal Cloud what he says to people who say they can't trust Tombstone cops.

"That was the reputation we had when I took over," Cloud said. "We are slowly working away from that. The citizens have a right to be skeptical because of the past, but we'll eventually have their trust back."

Cloud also told 9OYS his deputies are receiving double the training they were receiving. Despite the progress, Cloud said progress has been made and a big part of rebuilding trust will lie in how the town handles this latest death. The public is calling for transparency throughout the investigation.

"I would like to see all police reports," House said. "I want to know exactly what happened to him."

Cloud told KGUN9 all information on the case will be released once the investigation is complete. He said once all the facts come out, he trusts the town of Tombstone will understand why the deputy took the lethal action he did.

The Tombstone Marshal's Office also wanted to make sure it's not investigating itself. The Sierra Vista and Benson Police Departments along with the Cochise County Sheriff's Office are also involved.

A Cochise County spokesperson says the investigation is ongoing.