Spokesman: ‘The family knows no more today’

Published 3:00 am Saturday, January 6, 2018

The spokesperson for the family of a teen injured in an arrest by the Troy Police Department says a meeting with State Bureau of Investigation officials didn’t provide many answers.

“The family knows no more today about what happened than they did when the mother saw her son at the hospital,” said Kenneth Glasgow, the family’s advocate.

The family of 17-year-old Ulysses Wilkerson III met Friday with state officials in an attempt to gain more insight into what happened on Dec. 23, 2017, when the teen was apparently beaten during an arrest by Troy Police Officers.

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SBI officer Gregory Carpenter confirmed that SBI officials did meet with the family Friday but declined to discuss what the meeting entailed. Carpenter said no new information regarding the investigation is being released to the public at this time.

“It’s still early in the investigation,” Carpenter said. “Everything is progressing as we expected.”

Dustin Fowler, one of the family’s attorneys, also declined to comment on the family’s meeting Friday.

Mayor Jason Reeves said last week he turned the investigation over to the SBI for an “independent assessment of the matter.”

The incident occurred on Dec. 23, 2017, just minutes before Christmas Eve when police say they observed the juvenile emerge from behind a closed business downtown. Police say Wilkerson fled from officers, then refused to comply with officers’ commands and resisted arrest. At least one officer to used physical force in the incident, which Police Chief Randall Barr called at the time “reasonable and necessary.”

Wilkerson was charged with obstruction of governmental operations and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors. One officer has been placed on administrative leave, but officials have not identified the officer.

Wilkerson was hospitalized after the incident and photos circulated on social media showed his apparently beaten and swollen face and sparking more than 300 people to rally in protest on Dec. 30, 2017, demanding accountability and answers for the family. At that rally, Glasgow called for city officials to release the video and all evidence in the case and take disciplinary action against the officers involved by Friday, warning that failure to do so would result in a protest that blocks U.S. 231.

Glasgow Friday said the deadline had passed and the family has not seen body cam footage of the incident. Glasgow said he is in talks with national leaders to set a date sometime next week for a rally to be held on U.S. Highway 231.

District Attorney Tom Anderson has confirmed that video of the incident exists but said officials are not required by law to release it.

There’s nothing required in the law to maintain body cam video,” Anderson said. “There’s nothing in any circumstance that would require them to release it.”

Anderson said Thursday police in Alabama aren’t required by the law to wear body cameras, much less release the footage to the public, saying that the footage is not technically considered a public record.

Instead, Anderson said it is up to city ordinance and policies to set the standards for whether body cams are worn and how any footage from them is handled.

Further complicating this particular issue, Anderson said, is the fact that Wilkerson is a juvenile.

“That would cause some issues unless the family expressly waives it,” Anderson said. “There are laws that protect the confidentiality of these cases.”

Barr declined to comment on the ultimatum and declined to comment Thursday on whether and when any body cam footage would be released to the family or the public. Mayor Jason Reeves also declined to comment.