Derrick Jackson asked the Wichita City Council on Tuesday to help him find closure in the July 10 shooting death of his wife, Karen, at the hands of two Wichita police officers.
Jackson was the latest family member of someone shot by police to appear before the council. Three appeared last week. Since October, five people have been killed and nine wounded in confrontations with police.
In a presentation absent much of the emotion and anger of last week, Jackson boiled it down to one thing: He needs to be able to explain to Karen’s grandchildren what happened to their grandmother, and he can’t. He doesn’t understand what happened himself.
“We would like to forgive the police officers, but sometimes it’s hard to forgive someone when you don’t know what’s in someone’s heart,” Jackson told the council. “Some of the information placed in the media isn’t accurate. … My wife hasn’t been passed away once; she’s being assassinated in the media because her character isn’t what the community knows.”
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Karen Jackson, 45, was shot the evening of July 10 by officers arriving in the 700 block of North Spruce to settle a domestic dispute. Police Chief Norman Williams told The Eagle a day later that officers saw her come out of a house with a whiskey bottle and a fire igniter in one hand and a knife in the other.
Williams said in July that Jackson stabbed herself several times with the knife in the chest and stomach, then approached the officers at a fast pace, telling officers to shoot her.
“I need to explain stuff to our grandchildren,” Derrick Jackson said. “We have 11. They see a police officer and they say, ‘The police killed my grandma.’ ”
Jackson said he has no ill will toward the department. He just wants an explanation of what went wrong that July night in the yard on Spruce.
“We have no hatred toward the Wichita Police Department,” he said. “We understand you’re hired to do a job and they try the best they can. …
“We need answers. Is it just or unjust? For me, I wouldn’t be here if I thought it was justified.”
Council members offered no comments during Jackson’s five-minute presentation. Williams and Deputy Chief Tom Stolz were in the audience.
Mayor Carl Brewer asked city staff to set up a meeting between Jackson’s family and City Attorney Gary Rebenstorf, the same solution offered to the three speakers last week.