Officials call for calm as ALEA investigates

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, December 27, 2017

City officials are calling for transparency and calm as state officials investigate the use of physical force during the Troy Police Department’s arrest of a juvenile.

“There has been a lot of speculation on social media about the arrest of a juvenile this past weekend,” Mayor Jason Reeves said Tuesday. “(On) Sunday I turned the matter over to the State Bureau of Investigation (ALEA) for an independent investigation. I would caution the public to be calm and patient as we await the final report from the state. Until then, I’m not able to discuss the matter since the investigation is ongoing.”

Heath Carpenter of the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), the ALEA department over the investigation, said in a release Tuesday night that SBI officials also will not release any further information until the investigation is complete.

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“In order to protect the juvenile involved and the integrity of the investigation, no additional information will be released by SBI until this investigation is closed,” he said. “The completed investigation will be turned over to Pike County District Attorney Tom Anderson for presentation to a grand jury.”

He did not confirm whether footage from police body cameras captured the incident.

“We will be analyzing all available evidence through the course of this investigation, whether it be physical, digital or analog,” Carpenter said. “I cannot speak as to what types of evidence we have reviewed at this stage of the investigation.”

The incident began shortly before midnight Dec. 23, when officers on patrol spotted a 17-year-old male walking from behind a business in the area of downtown Troy. According to a statement from Police Chief Randall Barr, the teen fled on foot when approached by the officers.

“After a lengthy foot pursuit, officers were able to apprehend the suspect on Madison Street but he resisted arrest and refused to comply with commands from the officers to place his hands behind his back,” Barr said, adding that the juvenile continued to struggle with officers.

“(He) kept reaching toward his waistband as if he was attempting to access a weapon; all while repeatedly ignoring officers’ commands to stop resisting and give them his hands,” Barr said. “Due to the subject’s actions and failure to comply with officers’ commands, officers had to use physical force to affect the arrest. The force used was reasonable and necessary.”

The teen was taken to Troy Regional Medical Center and then to University of Alabama Birmingham. Photographs circulated on social media showed Sunday showed the teen handcuffed to a hospital bed with a severely swollen and bruised face. He has since been released from the hospital.

The teen was charged with obstructing governmental operations and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors.

While discussing the incident at the council’s work session Tuesday, councilmember Wanda Moultry, District 5, called for transparency from the city moving forward in similar situations. Troy Police did not release a statement on the incident for more than 12 hours after the arrest was made and photos of the teen were posted on social media.

“We need to be coming forth first when there is any abuse against anyone,” Moultry said. “We need to be proactive and let the citizens know.”

Councilmember Robert Jones, District 1, asked for prayers for the boy, his family and the city. “Let us pray to God that we do the right thing,” Jones said.

“I pray that whatever we do be done in a manner that God is pleased,” Moultry added.

In response to questions about a potential protest being planned by citizens at the Troy Police Department, Reeves asked for citizens to be “to be patient and remain calm” as the case is investigated.

Efforts to reach members of the teen’s family were unsuccessful.