Civil rights attorneys to represent family

Published 7:20 pm Thursday, December 28, 2017

The family of Ulysses Wilkerson has retained civil rights attorneys including a lawyer who represented the families of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice.

Dustin Fowler of the Dothan firm Buntin, Etheredge and Fowler said Thursday that his firm is now representing the teen who was physically beaten during an arrest by the Troy Police Department Saturday night along with Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who represented the Brown, Martin and Rice families.

“We will do everything in our power to seek justice for Ulysses Wilkerson, an African-American teenager who was brutally beaten at the hands of police in Troy, Alabama, on Dec. 23,” the attorneys said in a statement.

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The attorneys say they have been in contact with the State Bureau of Investigation, which has taken over the case, and said the bureau is working diligently towards getting answers.

“The family is adamant about the community staying engaged to help seek for justice for their 17-year-old son,” they said. “This is not just a matter of black and white, it is a matter of humanity.”

The incident took place late Saturday night when officers observed the 17-year-old male walking out from behind a closed business downtown at approximately 11:52 p.m.

“Officers approached the subject and as they exited their patrol car, he fled on foot,” Troy Police Chief Randall Barr said.

Barr said officers pursued the subject on foot to Madison Street. “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.

“The subject continued to struggle with officers and 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.”

It was then that Barr says officers resorted to physical force, which he called “reasonable and necessary.”

The incident quickly went viral on social media after family posted photos of Wilkerson’s injuries, leading many to call for justice for “Fatdaddy” as Wilkerson is known, while some others took it a step further and have made threats against officers.

A rally is being held at the Troy Police Department at 11 a.m. Saturday, which organizers and the family have asked to remain peaceful. The Birmingham chapter of Black Lives Matter has said it would send members to the rally and famous civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton has been invited.

The family plans to hold a press conference at 9 a.m. Friday.