Black Funeral Directors Sue Harrison County Coroner
A group of black funeral home directors in Harrison County are suing Coroner Gary Hargrove and the board of supervisors.
Gary Hargrove has served as the Harrison County coroner for the past 20 years and for the past 20 years black funeral directors in the county say Hargrove’s biased opinion has hurt their business. A lawsuit filed this morning in federal court accuses Hargrove of steering the county’s morgue, cremation and burial business to white-owned funeral homes. There are a total of six black-owned funeral homes within the county.
According to their attorney, records obtained from Harrison County show most of the funeral related funds were spent with local white-owned funeral directors.
During today’s press conference, black funeral directors stated they are just as qualified to provide the same services and they hope this lawsuit brings not only awareness but equality. Eddie Hartwell with Hartwells Christian Mortuary and Funeral Home said, “There have been situations where death where the coroner was called occurred within 300 yards of a black funeral home establishment and at a white funeral establishment from five miles away was called in to handle that.”
The lawsuit also accuses the Harrison County Board of Supervisors of approving Hargrove’s conduct.
News 25 reached out to Gary Hargrove for a statement. He has yet to respond.