There was no weapon. There was no struggle. There were no threats towards police officers. Joseph Jennings, 18, had just gotten out of the hospital that day… He was in school to get his welder’s license. But police decided that when Joseph didn’t answer them, this was just cause to open fire on him.
There is no question that Joseph was having emotional problems that day. We later found out that it was Joseph who had called the police. We don’t know exactly what he was thinking.
Brandy Smith was there – she saw the whole thing, along with her husband. Brandy had taken Joseph in as a foster parent and raised him like a son. She was at the scene while police officers surrounded him.
She urged Joseph to “just come home,” but Joseph and police alike knew that he couldn’t make a move. Indeed, he didn’t make a move towards officers, just standing in place shifting his weight, never advancing towards police, nor trying to run. At one point, he made slight movements backing, with his hands showing as police officers were yelling at him “show me your hands!”
Was he contemplating a “suicide-by-cop” scenario, like the media has openly – and widely – speculated?
If he did, it is strange that he never motioned for a weapon, nor did he have one. He never threatened officers. His “crime” was not responding to officers, but instead telling his adopted guardian – his “aunt” Brandy and her husband not to worry.
That was it. “Don’t worry” he said to them as they came out, yelling – pleading with police to put down their guns.
But police officers from the Ottawa Police Department and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office didn’t listen. Instead, they threatened Brandy and her husband, barking: “You better get out of the way or I’ll f*cking shoot you too!”
Somehow this has managed to not outrage the community in Ottawa, Kansas.
Police officers randomly sprayed literally dozens of shots towards Joseph. Some of those bullets entered into a neighbor’s home, almost hitting a 1-year-old child playing in the house, according to Brandy.
Police never let Brandy or the rest of Joseph’s family view his body. They detained her after the shooting, putting her in a squad car, telling her that she was not free to leave “until you calm down.”
“Calm down.” Police shot an unarmed teenager and they told his family members that they were not free to leave until they “calmed down.”
Thanks to the media, the community in Ottawa has stayed quite calm, standing behind the police based simply on the media propagation of the theory that he “wanted to die.”
In an interview, Smith was asked to describe what had happened to Joseph. Here’s what she said:
“I ran over barefoot and all, screamed at the top of my lungs. As you can tell, my voice is hoarse and this is not from crying. That’s Joseph Jennings. Don’t shoot. Don’t shoot. He just got out of the hospital. He’s suicidal. Don’t shoot. Please don’t shoot.”
“I can’t tell you how many times I said it.”
“I told Joseph, please, Joseph don’t do this. It’s not worth it. We love you. We’ll get you some help. Don’t do this,” Smith recalled. “He told me go home. I told him, no, I love you. I’m not leaving. You need to just calm down, work this out.”
She explains further that officers trained guns on her and her husband as they approached, trying to calm everyone down.
“I went over there trying to assist them. I had guns in my face.”
“I came over. I was in reaching distance of Joseph Jennings. I told my husband to get him. My husband went to reach for him, and the police said get back or we’ll shoot. I said let us get him. Please let us. We can get him,” Smith recounted.
“He’s got a gun,” the police told her. “I said yes, I’d never seen a gun. If he’s got a gun, it’s a BB gun. We don’t own weapons. I’m telling you he just got out of the hospital at 4:20. I got to the house at 4:30. There’s no way. He’s been in my sight the whole time. Please don’t shoot him.”
Police said they were going to taser Joseph, but again, Joseph had not committed any crime. Brandy told officers that Joseph suffered from seizures, and urged them not to taser him, as it could kill him. They agreed.
As a result, the police say they opened fire on him with beanbag rounds. Again, he had committed no crime.
Police fired at him with bean bag rounds. Joseph never said a word. As he got up, some of the officers began to open fire with live ammunition on Joseph, and others soon followed suit, joining in with the rest of the impromptu firing squad.
Ottawa police tell us that there were several officers who shot at Joseph. They had no comment beyond that. Brandy notes that the Ottawa Police Department has changed their story about what happened that day several times. Click here to read the latest version. You will notice that in spite of their constantly-changing version of events, police still acknowledge that there was no weapon and no struggle, just a depressed teenager who didn’t answer police. If this is cause to gun someone down without facing prosecution, then there is truly no justice anymore in America.
Brandy and her husband have set up a support page for Joseph on Facebook. Please take a minute and “like” it. Then pass this article on to people you know who care and believe that unarmed people who are not even struggling with police officers should not be fired on by nervous cops. If officers are this scared to face even unarmed people in the course of their duties, perhaps they have chosen the wrong line of work.
(Article by Moreh B.D.K.; image via local Fox Channel 4)