Prosecutors appointed to handle investigation into TPD use of force

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Two prosecutors have been selected to take over District Attorney Tom Anderson’s role in an investigation of the Troy Police Department’s use of force against a teen in December 2017.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has appointed Tommy Smith, a supernumerary district attorney out of Tuscaloosa, and Michael W. Jackson, district attorney for the fourth judicial circuit of Alabama, to handle the prosecutorial duties associated with the investigation.

Anderson recused himself from the matter on Jan. 19 to “avoid any possible appearance of bias or political influence.”

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“Just as the City of Troy Police Department requested a neutral and detached agency, the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI), to conduct an independent investigation, I have concluded it is in the best interest of public confidence that my office recuse itself from any involvement in the investigation of the incident and the matter be assigned to an independent prosecutor,” Anderson said in a statement. “We take this action to avoid any possible appearance of bias or political influence, and after researching national standards and recommendations related to potential conflicts or the appearance of conflicts. This action is also taken in deference to the wishes of the juvenile’s family for an outside investigation and examination of the facts.”

The family revealed the teen to be 17-year-old Ulysses Wilkerson shortly after the incident took place when his mother, Angela Williams, shared photos of the teens bloodied and swollen face on social media.

SBI officer Heath Carpenter said the change in prosecutor won’t have any affect on the investigation.

“Whoever is placed in charge as prosecutor for this case, we will take the completed case file and turn it over them to look at,” Carpenter said. “Then they typically present it to a grand jury.”

Before recusing himself from the matter, Anderson said the case could be presented to the next convening of a grand jury in February.

Carpenter said the investigation is progressing as expected and that the process usually takes up to 60 days to complete. The investigation began Dec. 24, 2017.

Troy police say the incident began when officers observed Wilkerson emerge from behind a closed business downtown and attempted to contact him. The teen fled, they say, and resisted arrest when officers caught up to him on Madison Street. According to police, the teen reached for his waistband as if going for a firearm and police say they recovered a gun when retracing the route of the pursuit.

The officer involved has been placed on administrative leave.