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Monday, July 28, 2014

Group protests spate of officer-involved shootings in Wichita


By Stan Finger

Banging on drums, shouting chants and holding signs, more than 20 people rallied outside City Hall on Monday to protest the recent surge in officer-involved shootings around Wichita.

There have been five people killed and nine injured in eight armed confrontations with police in the past nine months. No officers have been injured.

“WPD, Stop Killing People!” one sign said.

Other signs used words like “murder” and “executed.” The protesters, who say they’re part of Occupy Wichita, want Police Chief Norman Williams fired and a special investigation to look into tactics used by police officers.

Mike Shatz, a member of Occupy Wichita, said he has heard from numerous people who say the police accounts of the shootings haven’t been accurate.

He said he thinks local officers are being too aggressive. That may be a product of how they’re being trained, so changes may need to start there.

“We’re not against cops,” Doug Ballard said. “We’re just against bad cops.”

The crowd included relatives of people who died when confronting officers with weapons.

One man held a sign reading “I will miss you, grandma. RIP”

“They killed my son!” one woman shouted. “They’re killing everybody!”

A green sign listed the names of those killed in officer-involved shootings since October: Karen Jackson, Timothy Collins, Marquez Smart, Troy Lanning Jr. and DeJuan Colbert.

The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office has yet to rule on whether the use of deadly force by police officers was justified in the shooting incidents.

Police have previously declined to comment on the shootings because the cases remain under investigation by the District Attorney's office.

City Hall security officers kept an eye on the protesters, but no confrontations were reported.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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