Wilkerson case not expected to make next grand jury

Published 3:00 am Thursday, February 22, 2018

An investigation of a Troy police officer that used physical force in the arrest of a juvenile will likely not be presented to the upcoming Feb. 27 grand jury according to a district attorney.

Specially appointed D.A. Michael W. Jackson, who presides over the 4th Judicial Circuit, said the investigation is not yet complete.

“We still have a little more work to do,” Jackson said. “It is not going to be presented to the grand jury right now.”

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It has been 60 days now since the investigation began on Dec. 24, 2017, a day after Troy police used physical force while arresting 17-year-old Ulysses Wilkerson, whose name was released by family members on social media along with photos of his bloody and swollen face taken after the arrest.

Mayor Jason Reeves handed over the investigation of the use of force to the State Bureau of Investigations, stating he “asked for an independent investigation because (he) felt it was necessary for all involved as well as (the) community.”

SBI officer Heath Carpenter said the investigation would take about 60 days to complete. He said Wednesday that he expects to have an update on the investigation at the end of next week.

Jackson and Tommy Smith, a supernumerary district attorney out of Tuscaloosa, were appointed by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall to handle the investigation after Pike County District Attorney Tom Anderson recused himself earlier this year 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.”

If the evidence from the investigation is not presented during the upcoming grand jury session, the next scheduled session isn’t until June 28. There could be a special grand jury held, however, if Jackson and Smith were to call one.

“That hasn’t been decided yet,” Jackson said. “Thomas Smith and I would make that decision of course consulting with Troy people and the schedule of their grand jury.”

Jackson said he and Smith are also dealing with Wilkerson’s upcoming juvenile trial.

Wilkerson was charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental operations.

Jackson said there are a variety of ways the charges could be handled if Wilkerson is found guilty.

“Judges arrange the options,” Jackson said. “If the charges are substantiated, they could judge him delinquent or a child in need of supervision. There are different options on what he wants to do with him under the Department of Youth Services. There’s the HIT program, which is sort of like a juvenile boot camp and other juvenile boot camps. There’s juvenile detention, which is like juvenile jail. If he’s deemed a child in need of supervision, there are less punitive actions. There are all kinds of programs for that situation too.”

The family, community and protestors have clamored for answers including body cam footage from officials and police. Anderson confirmed that there are multiple recordings that captured both audio and video footage of the incident.

City and state officials have said the investigation must be completed before evidence is released.

The grand jury proceeding is not open to the public, but if an indictment is issued, the evidence would likely be available to the public when the case goes to trial.