The author of an upcoming book about the fatal police shooting of 22-year-old Gregory Sevier said Thursday that he has tried his best to keep everything about the case in context.
Jerry Thomas, a Hawaii man who has written "Hitchita!," described as the "documented story of the Gregg Sevier homicide," said he worked "very intensively" on the book the past 2 months and "less intensively" from July to November.
"Hitchita" is a Creek word meaning "look," or "behold." Hitchita is the name of the Oklahoma town where Gregg's father, Willie Sevier, was born, and where Gregg was buried after he was shot to death by two Lawrence police officers responding to a call at the Sevier home April 21, 1991.
The roughly 400-page book includes transcribed versions of the coroner's inquest into the shooting, which was ruled justifiable. It also includes word-by-word accounts of town meetings about the shooting, which caused tension between city officials and the local Native American community.
THOMAS, a former Dale Carnegie instructor who worked about nine years for the Fort Collins, Colo., police department as a dispatcher and supervisor of communications, said he first heard about the case in July when he was visiting a friend in Lawrence. After reading news stories about the shooting, Thomas became "more and more interested" in the case, he said.
"It's a spectacular case," he said, adding that there seem to be a lot of people in Lawrence concerned about the case.
While researching Sevier's shooting, Thomas also brushed up on Native American history, learning more about the Creek tribe, he said.
Mark Gudenkauf, Gregg Sevier's brother-in-law, said Thomas spent a lot of time at Willie and Orene Sevier's home and went to Oklahoma to interview Creeks about their culture. A basic history of the Creek tribe is included in the book, Thomas said.
Thomas, who lives in Pahoa, Hawaii, said copies of the first edition should be available next week. Tuesday is the nine-month anniversary of Sevier's death.
THE SEVIER family is distributing the books locally. Gudenkauf said the family is planning to publish about 500 copies of the first edition. The books are being published by Thomas' own company, Peer Press.
Willie Sevier said today that proceeds from the $22 book will go toward defraying legal costs if his family decides to pursue a lawsuit on grounds of wrongful death or violation of civil rights.
Lance Burr, the Seviers' attorney, said today that the family still is considering whether to file a lawsuit.
"We've been waiting to raise some expense money just to look into some things," Burr said.
For example, Burr said an Oklahoma doctor is studying how the bullets entered Sevier's body.
"They're claiming that (Gregg's) hand was raised" and that he was lunging at police with a knife, and "we don't think that's true," Burr said.
IN ADDITION to raising legal fees, Willie Sevier also said he hopes the book also will increase awareness about his son's death. The Sevier family also is selling caps, T-shirts and sweatshirts to raise money for a possible lawsuit.
At least one downtown bookstore has agreed to sell the book, said Gudenkauf, who added that he is in the process of contacting other bookstores about carrying the book.