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January 8, 2008 - Lima News (OH)

Crowd Confronts Council On Lima Shooting

By Heather Rutz

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

LIMA -- A crowd in City Council's chambers started the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance.

"With liberty and justice for all," the crowd recited, emphasizing the word "all."

The crowd of about 200, raw with anger and emotion, didn't believe it Monday night.

Following a Lima police officer's fatal shooting of Tarika Wilson, 26, during a drug raid Friday night, City Council tabled its regular meeting until tonight, and opened up the floor to residents who demanded answers but received none and called the shooting murder.

"I've yet to hear one word: victim. The man who shot her, he's not a suspect? What if that was me?" shouted Quintel Wilson, Wilson's brother. "Where would I be? Locked up. No bond! Victim is the word here."

Residents asked about the need for a second warrant, and asked for the name of the officer involved in the shooting. Council President John Nixon told the crowd there would be no responses to the questions Monday night, because of an ongoing investigation.

One woman said the word "investigation" means nothing to black people.

City Council moved its meeting to Lima Senior High School when chambers filled up and residents gathering outside the city building wanted to come in but were locked out. City Council swore in new members, authorized paying Wilson's burial expenses as a moral obligation and moved the meeting.

Some in the crowd taped the meeting with their own video cameras and cell phones. One man heckled Police Chief Greg Garlock for much of the meeting, asking "Do you have a heart?"

Many others spoke of racial profiling in other instances. Others spoke of their certainty of a cover-up. Many offered the Wilson family condolences. Vickie Johnson, Wilson's aunt, screamed, nearly inconsolable.

"This is wrong! They target the blacks! What was the threat of a 26-year-old woman holding a 13-month-old baby, shot in the heart? She was killed in front of her babies!" Johnson said. "You guys tried to pull up dirt on her after she was dead! There's no dirt to pull up!"

Many spoke in support of 6th Ward Councilman Derry Glenn, who owns the home in which the raid took place.

About 10 p.m., a man questioned why Glenn was not notified of the raid. Mayor David Berger said no landlord is ever notified ahead of a raid. With that, many in the crowd stood up and left.

Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center Director Brenda Johnson said she was told by a police desk officer Friday night nothing was found during the raid.

Earlier in the day, the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and area black ministers called for healing in the community Monday, but said it can't happen without answers.

"Some of the questions that we have we need answered to help us in bringing about the healing as well as having a true trust in our Police Department," the Rev. Earnest Stephens, of Fourth Street Missionary Baptist Church, said during an afternoon news conference.

About 20 ministers and other black leaders, including councilmen Tommy Pitts and Derry Glenn, met with Police Chief Greg Garlock and Mayor David Berger following the news conference at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

The meeting included talks about Friday's incident, a need for future dialogue between the black community and law enforcement and a need for more diversity at the Police Department.

The group wants specifics about Friday's shooting, including the protocol of a search warrant, whether it was executed properly, if officers knew children were in the home, and the names of the officers involved.

Local NAACP President Jason Upthegrove said it is unacceptable that the shooting officer has not been identified.

"If an African-American male had killed this young lady, his name would have been on the news that evening," he said.

Police are not trying to keep information from the public, Garlock said, and turning over the investigation to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was to make it clear to the community officials want the facts to come out. The bureau has directed the Police Department not to release information during the investigation, Berger said.

The NAACP is launching its own investigation, and is encouraging people who believe their rights have been violated or have been mistreated by law enforcement to call 419-226-2227.

Several at the meeting said it's crucial the situation is handled properly, saying it has already become volatile. It was obvious again Monday as a small group of Wilson's family and friends became upset that they were not in Monday's meeting.

"In my 17 years as pastor of Philippian, I have never seen anything that could blow up like this," the Rev. B. LaMont Monford Sr. said. "If we do not get this right, there is going to be a difficult day ahead."

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