Families Demand Answers From City Council On Police Shootings

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Since January, there have been eight officer-involved shootings in Wichita, four of which have been fatal. Family members of suspects shot by police spoke out at Tuesday's city council meeting, demanding answers and looking for resolution.

Sometimes in tears, three of those families told the mayor and city council that they are getting the cold shoulder from police. They say they want answers on what happened to their loved ones.

"That woman was my mother and also my good friend. She was a loving and caring daughter, mother and grandmother and wife," Tyra Williams said.

Williams is the daughter of Karen Jackson, a Wichita woman who was killed in July in an officer-involved shooting. Officers say Jackson approached them with a knife and refused to drop it.

"The police were all around us and wouldn't explain what happened." Williams said. "When my mother was approached by the officers, she was murdered in less than 16 seconds of them approaching her,"

Randall Smart is the father of Marquez Smart, a man shot by police in March during an incident in Old Town. Police said Smart was shooting into a crowd as the clubs were letting out for the night.

"Marquez was shot five times in the back while running away from police," Randall Smart said.

"When my son ran out the back door, he was surrendering, turning... and got shot in his head, right in his eyebrow," Shakeitha Scales said.

Scales' son was Timothy Collins. Police said Collins was killed by officers after he robbed a home and refused to drop his weapon.

"The Wichita Police must stop the killing," Smart said.

Shortly after they spoke to the council, the group got an immediate private meeting with Wichita Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz.

"Any communications is better than zero, we can always do better I feel like to days session, I feel it went better. We left with some understanding, some disagreement," Stolz said.

Stolz admits his department could communicate better with the families but adds that because the investigations are in the hands of the district attorney, the police department is limited in what it can say.

"To some degree that is quite is true. We cannot talk to people while this is being actively investigated. I think that's what's causing the disconnect here," Stolz said.

Stolz says he will be meeting with Chief Norman Williams to discuss ways to better communicate with family members in these cases. In the meantime, the district attorney is deciding whether police were justified in the shootings.

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