A protest has been planned for Monday, Feb. 5, on U.S. Highway 231 in response to an ongoing investigation by the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) into whether unnecessary force was used by the Troy Police Department in an arrest last month.
Ulysses Wilkerson III, 17, was allegedly beaten in downtown Troy after resisting police arrest on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017.
Troy Police Chief Randall Barr said the officers used “reasonable and necessary” force to make the arrest.
According to SBI officers, the investigation is expected to continue into February.
According to the Troy Police Department, Wilkerson was walking behind a downtown building just before midnight. When approached by police, Wilkerson fled on foot and officers chased him.
Police said Wilkerson resisted arrest, refused to put his hands behind his back and began reaching for his waistband, as if searching for a weapon.
Barr said a gun was later found along the path where officers chased Wilkerson.
Wilkerson was charged by Troy police with resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental operations, both misdemeanor charges.
After Wilkerson’s arrest, a photo circulated on Facebook showing Wilkerson with his eye swollen shut and the left side of his face bloodied.
Wilkerson’s father, Ulysses Wilkerson Jr., said his son’s eye socket was cracked in three places, and Wilkerson had brain swelling in addition to extensive facial swelling.
Before leaving the scene, Wilkerson was treated for injuries by the Troy Fire Department paramedics and transported to Troy Regional Medical Center before being transferred to the University of Alabama Medical Center in Birmingham.
“I just want justice for my son,” Wilkerson Jr. said. “That’s all I got to say.”
District Attorney Tom Anderson said that body camera footage does exist, but SBI has stated that it will not release the footage until the conclusion of the investigation.
“I know there is some body cam video and audio as well,” Anderson said. “I only know of one officer that was directly involved that did not have body cam video.”
Wilkerson’s mother, Angela Williams, and the rest of Wilkerson’s family requested the releases of the body cam footage. When the footage was not released, the family and the NAACP began planning a protest on U.S. Highway 231 in Troy.
Mayor Jason Reeves said the city is fully cooperating with the SBI’s investigation.
“We are working on it every day,” Reeves said. “We, from the outset, requested an outside and independent investigation.
“I would assure everyone that we are going to make sure that this process is done in the right way.”
SBI officers have said that no information will be released until the investigation has concluded.
“It is SBI’s responsibility to collect, report and communicate all related facts in a properly legal manner so that the criminal justice system is best equipped to render a finding,” said Gregory Carpenter, an SBI officer.
SBI officer Heath Carpenter said that no more information will be released until the investigation is finished and could be presented to a grand jury.
Williams held a press conference asking the SBI to uncover the truth on behalf of her son.
“While I’m hopeful the State Bureau of Investigation will uncover the truth, I still call on the community to take a stand,” Williams said. “We will not settle until we know the truth behind the brutal beating of my dear son and until these police officers are held accountable for their crimes.”
Reeves said he hopes every member of the community feels safe and valued.
“We work every day to make sure we have a safe community, and we are going to continue to do that,” Reeves said. “Every person in this community is important and sacred to this community.”
Charlie Harris, a Pike County commissioner, noted that there are other options to subdue a suspect when officers give chase.
“A young man who is 17 years old didn’t have to take this beating like this,” Harris said. “You have your stun gun, you have your Mace and all of this.”
Wilkerson is being represented legally by Ben Crump, who worked on high-profile cases such as those of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Wilkerson’s other representatives include Dustin Fownler and Stephen Etheredge from Buntin, Etheredge and Fowler, based in Dothan.
According to al.com, Williams has confirmed her son to be home, and doctors are evaluating whether he will have surgery.
“I didn’t want this to happen,” Williams said. “He’s only 17.
“I just want to know what happened. I’m in the dark, and I should be the last one in the dark.”