ALABAMA — Two parents want to see police body camera and dashcam footage of their son’s arrest after a Christmas Eve encounter with Troy, Alabama, police left the 17-year-old badly beaten and hospitalized.
Photos — one of which mother Angela Williams posted on Facebook, where it was shared more than 80,000 times — show Ulysses Wilkerson in a hospital bed, the white sheet beneath his head bloody. His nose and lips are crusted in blood, and his left eye is swollen shut.
“He had trauma to the brain, swelling on the brain, and a cracked eye socket in three different places,” the boy’s father, Ulysses Wilkerson Jr., told CNN affiliate WDHN.
In her Monday post, Williams claims Troy police officers assaulted her son while he was in handcuffs and haven’t provided her much information. Troy police say they used “reasonable and necessary” force to subdue the teen after he reached for his waistband.
“I’m heading to Birmingham to UAB he has fracture and had to transport to have surgery,” she wrote.
While they’ve provided short statements on Ulysses’ Sunday arrest, Troy police and the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) have yet to divulge key pieces of information, despite multiple requests from CNN. Among them: the officers’ identities; whether the officers are on leave during a state investigation; whether a gun found near the scene was linked to Ulysses; and whether the teen still faces charges.
CNN could not immediately reach Williams or Ulysses’ father for comment.
While the Troy Police Department issued a news release saying Ulysses was charged with misdemeanor obstruction and resisting arrest, the youth’s father told WDHN that police dropped charges.
“They had him handcuffed when we got in there. They said he was charged with obstruction of justice. The ambulance came to take him to (University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital). They took the handcuffs off of him and dropped the charges on him,” the father told the Dothan station.
Troy police referred questions about charges to the SBI, which declined to answer specific questions and re-sent CNN a news release it had provided the network the day before.
Pike County District Attorney Tom Anderson told CNN he was unsure if Ulysses still faces charges.
The information provided by police is “vastly different” from what Ulysses’ parents are alleging, the prosecutor said. For instance, the parents allege police used force while Ulysses was handcuffed, but Anderson said police claim they used force only after Ulysses reached into his waistband for what officers feared could be a weapon.
Some of the officers involved in Ulysses’ arrest were not wearing body cameras, and one officer was wearing one but did not turn on the device, Anderson said. It is not clear how many officers were involved.
Still, there is video and audio of the interaction, none of which Anderson has had a chance to review, he said. Anderson hasn’t spoken with police or the mayor about releasing the video, and Ulysses’ parents have not requested to meet with him, he said.
Anderson’s last conversation with police came on Christmas Day, he said. At least one of the officers has received threats on Facebook, the prosecutor said.
‘Reasonable and necessary’ force?
In a news release, Troy police said officers saw Ulysses walking out from behind a downtown business around 11:52 p.m. Sunday. As officers approached the teen, he fled and officers gave chase, police say.
After apprehending Ulysses, Troy police say, “he resisted arrest and refused to comply with commands from the officers to place his hands behind his back. The subject continued to struggle with officers and kept reaching toward his waistband as if he was attempting to access a weapon; all while repeatedly ignoring officers’ commands to stop resisting and give them his hands,” the news release said.
The statement continues, “Officers had to use physical force to affect the arrest. The force used was reasonable and necessary.”
Later, when officers retraced the path of the foot chase, they found a handgun on the ground, which was being processed as of Monday, police say.
Passerby Brittany Patterson told WDHN she saw officers surrounding Ulysses after the chase and said the boy appeared unconscious as she drove past the scene.
“You could see the swelling on his face,” she told the station. “You could tell that his face had a lot of bleeding. He looked, like I said, like he was passed out maybe, or in and out of consciousness or something.”
Her first thought, she said: “I hope they’re not beating him.”
Released from hospital
Ulysses was taken to Troy Regional Medical Center before being transported two hours north to UAB Hospital, police say.
According to Anderson, Ulysses had surgery on his orbital socket on Christmas Eve. Both hospitals said Thursday that Wilkerson was no longer a patient.
Troy Police Chief Randall Barr has requested that the SBI investigate his officers’ use of force. The agency sent officers to Troy to conduct interviews and collect evidence, the SBI said in a statement. The SBI will hand over its investigation to Anderson’s office when it’s complete, the agency said.
“I’m waiting to see the SBI report and review the audio and video content, and then put it on the grand jury that is available at that time,” the prosecutor said.
The next Pike County grand jury convenes the last week of February.