Commission dismisses $1M claim against Ark. State

LITTLE ROCK— The Arkansas State Claims Commission has voted to dismiss a $1 million wrongful death claim against Arkansas State University by the parents of a student who died after being shot at his campus apartment.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Saturday that the claims commission voted unanimously to reject the claim by Jerlene and Elijah Gilmore of Helena-West Helena.

The Gilmores filed the claim for compensation for the death of their son, Michael Gilmore, 24, who was shot in the head three years ago after answering his door at the Collegiate Apartments on the Jonesboro campus.

There have been no arrests in connection with his shooting.

The Gilmores cited wrongful death, pain and suffering, negligence and failure to follow procedure on the part of ASU as the reasons for the claim, and said that the family faced thousands of dollars in medical and funeral bills following the shooting.

Records show that the family owed more than $29,000 in hospital and funeral costs in the months following Gilmore's death.

The claim also mentioned separate shootings that occurred on the ASU campus in 2005, 2006 and 2008, in addition to a 2010 rape, as evidence of the school's "history of violent crimes committed against its students."

Jerlene Gilmore referred comments about the case to attorney Phyllis Gillespie, who was out of the state and unavailable to comment, according to the law firm where she works.

ASU spokesman Jeff Hankins said that the complaint presented a rarity for the school.

"It's the only lawsuit regarding a crime or safety issue that we're aware of in recent history," Hankins said in an email to the newspaper.

He said that a task force was formed to review campus safety following Gilmore's death and that safety measures were put into place at the school following the shooting, but that eradicating crime entirely is not likely.