The mother of a Monroe man accused of second-degree murder in two separate cases claims the Monroe police officers who investigated her son did so as part of a campaign to harass her family.
Shawnta Coleman made those claims in a personal letter to Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Larry Jefferson. Jefferson is presiding over a handful of cases involving the woman’s son, Devontae Coleman, 21, of Monroe.
Devontae Coleman is accused of shooting and killing his cousin, Junius Benton, in August 2017 when two feuding groups confronted each other with guns on a city street. Devontae Coleman, who later violated his court-ordered curfew, was arrested in September 2019 for participating in an execution-style killing in southern Monroe. He was wearing his ankle monitor at the time.
“In each case against Devonate Coleman there has been numerous fascinations held upon him in every situation brought in the presence of the court,” stated Shawnta Coleman’s Jan. 14 letter. “They’ve scandalized his name to the news reporters and stated that he’s a ‘Menace to Society.’ They presented him as this monstrous person to everyone in Monroe and nationwide and this has led to several doors closings with jobs and schools.”
Shawnta Coleman claimed Monroe Police Dets. Doug Lambert and Michael Fendall had “previous altercations” with her on “numerous occasions.” The two officers took action against her son because of a “vendetta against the Coleman family,” she claimed.
“In the past few years since Devontae Coleman was an adolescent, the law enforcement has harassed and abused authority by constantly raiding him with crimes he didn’t commit,” stated Shawnta Coleman’s letter.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Johnson, a spokesperson for Fourth Judicial District Attorney Steve Tew, pointed to the decision of a Ouachita Parish grand jury that indicted Devontae Coleman in August 2017 for the death of Coleman’s cousin, Benton.
“We have not received anything to cause us to doubt the evidence presented to the grand jury,” Johnson said.
Concerning the 2017 second-degree murder charge against her son, Shawnta Coleman claimed law enforcement authorities proceeded to “railroad” her son by arresting him for shooting and killing Benton.
“The parents of Junius Benton has made several statements to Detective Fendall and made news appearances stating the fact that Devontae Coleman didn’t take the life of their son knowing the fact that Junius Benton and Devontae Coleman are blood relatives,” stated Shawnta Coleman’s letter.
Devontae Coleman faces another charge of second-degree murder for allegedly killing Darrell Stevenson on Sept. 20, 2019. Robert Kim Coleman, 37, of Mesquite, Texas, also was charged with second-degree murder.
Arrest warrants indicated Devontae Coleman helped Robert Coleman kill Stevenson in retaliation for the death of Christopher Coleman. Christopher Coleman was Robert Coleman’s brother and Devonate Coleman’s uncle.
Christopher Coleman was shot and killed Sept. 14 on South 6th Street. Devontae Coleman and Robert Coleman retaliated nearly a week later, according to arrest warrants.
Police say Robert Coleman shot Stevenson first and Devontae Coleman walked over to the injured Stevenson and fired the killing shot.
Shawnta Coleman identified Fendall as the detective investigating her son in the Benton case and Lambert as the detective investigating her son in the Stevenson case.
“Detective Lambert and Detective Fendall arrested her in October of 2012 on false accusations made by a person or persons that had relations with the father of her children, Edgar Lewis, and the person seen Shawnta Coleman driving his vehicle and called the laws and they pulled the arrestee to a stop on a street where it was very dark and she asked the officers the reasoning for her being stopped and they said she had two warrants out for her arrest and as they were placing her in the backseat of the police car she asked them if they could assist with bringing her left leg inside the car and instead of placing it in correctly they started slamming the door repeatedly on her knee and when she was released she went to St. Francis and explained the situation to the doctor and he examined the knee and stated that it was indeed fractured,” stated Shawnta Coleman’s letter.
She claimed police officers had arrested and harassed her son with “crimes that had an unsubstantiated argument to present in all the crimes they’ve accused him of.”
One of those alleged crimes, she appeared to argue, included the recent shooting on Sept. 20, 2019, outside Smith’s Funeral Home on South 5th Street.
According to Shawnta Coleman’s letter, the victim, Darrell Stevenson “sped around three times and when he came to a stop he attempted to get out and aimed a gun towards family members, and he was later shot and taken to the hospital where he was soon pronounced dead.”
Shawnta Coleman also claimed police took two cellphones that belonged to her and have not yet returned them to her.
Among other claims in her letter, Shawnta Coleman claimed Lambert’s testimony during an Oct. 3, 2019 hearing was “fabricated.”
In his testimony at the hearing, Lambert said a gunshot residue test of Devontae Coleman’s hands after the September 2019 shooting returned positive.
“He’s on his hands and knees until Devontae walks up and touches him or appears to shoot him,” said Lambert at the hearing.
Monroe attorney Kevin Johnson, who represents Devontae Coleman, disputed Lambert’s testimony on the basis of a cell phone video, though Lambert later noted Johnson’s video was incomplete.