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No video, no answers in case of teen brutally beaten by police

By Brian E. Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Jan 24, 2018 - 5:18:51 PM

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Ulysses Wilkerson, 17, sustained several injuries. Photos: Sadot Wilkerson/Facebook
Representatives from the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation and the Pike County District Attorney’s Office met with the family of Ulysses Wilkerson, 17, and their attorney in early January.

The meeting was to discuss the investigation of a police beating of the teenager on a Troy, Ala., street in late December.

Wilkerson family attorney Benjamin Crump told The Final Call that weeks later nothing had come out of the meeting.

“They haven’t released the video and that’s the biggest thing we want,” Attorney Crump said. 

The family has demanded the release of body and dashcam video of the incident. City authorities and the family have been denied viewing the footage.

An Alabama State Bureau of Investigation spokesperson said the agency doesn’t release evidence whether it “exonerates or condemns” any of those involved.

“Our agency has a policy that we’re not going to release any portion of evidence prematurely before we give that to the district attorney,” said Lt. Heath Carpenter of the Criminal Investigation division of the State Bureau of Investigation, which looks into encounters involving police officers. The agency was called in by Troy police chief Randall Barr and Mayor Jason Reeves.

Lt. Carpenter said the investigation is moving as expected and normally takes 60 days to complete and then results will be given to Pike County District Attorney.

Meanwhile, it was announced Jan.19 the Alabama Attorney General’s office will take over the case after Pike County District Attorney Tom Anderson has removed himself from the investigation.

The move is to “avoid any possible appearance of bias or political influence,” and “potential conflicts or the appearance of conflicts,” Mr. Anderson said in a statement.

Just as the City of Troy Police Department requested a neutral and detached agency, the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI), to conduct an independent investigation, I have concluded it is in the best interest of public confidence that my office recuse itself from any involvement in the investigation of the incident and the matter be assigned to an independent prosecutor,” the statement read in part.

Troy is a city of 19,000 people, 52 percent White and 42 percent Black, according to

It’s nearly 100 miles from Selma where major civil rights battles were fought. The latest incident reflects a national trend of police violence against Blacks in recent years.

There is also growing public support for the family of the Black teenager.  A #justiceforfatdaddy hashtag has spread since the Dec. 23 encounter involving the teenager, whose nickname is “Fat Daddy.”Community leaders and organizers vow there will not be business as usual in Troy while police abuses persist.

Disturbing photos show Ulysses Wilkerson was badly beaten.

The community is outraged over the lack of answers from city officials in what exactly happened and why.

Photos: Sadot Wilkerson/Facebook
‘We have to really be vigilant in defending the honor, the dignity and the lives of Black people like Mr. Wilkinson. Because if we don’t … next time it won’t be horrific injuries, it will be a death.’
—Wilkerson family attorney Benjamin Crump

In a statement, officials said the teen was arrested and charged with obstructing governmental operations and resisting arrest. However, city officials left unexplained, the severity of his injuries—and why he was stopped by police in the first place.  A police spokesperson told The Final Call they could not discuss neither while the state investigation is being done.

“He had trauma to the brain, swelling on the brain, and a cracked eye socket in three different places,” said Ulysses Wilkerson Jr., father of the teen.

The senior Wilkerson said, “They had him handcuffed when we got in there; they said he was charged with obstruction of justice … they took the handcuffs off and dropped the charges on him,” he said. 

Attorney Crump said the actual facts are still coming out. “We’re waiting to see if the charges have been dropped; what we do know is that they arrested him, even though we’re not sure why they arrested him … we plan on challenging the detention and the arrest,” said Atty. Crump.

At a Dec. 24 press conference Mr. Wilkerson’s’ mother, Angela Williams, demanded those responsible be “held accountable” for her son being “handcuffed and beaten to unconsciousness.”  She vowed not to stop until the truth is exposed, and police are held accountable.

An initial statement from Mayor Reeves said a police officer—later identified as Brandon Hicks—was placed on leave during the investigation. The Final Call was told the teen identified Mr. Hicks as the White cop who repeatedly kicked his face during the encounter. Demands have been made for Mayor Reeves and Police Chief Randall Barr, who are White, to terminate Mr. Hicks.

The mayor’s office and the police department said they could not confirm nor provide any additional information about the case until the Alabama state agency completes its probe.

The Wilkerson family posted graphic images of the injured teen on social media that were reposted over 80,000 times, according to media reports. 

 “The images are a reminder of graphic photos of Emmett Till,” said Clarence Muhammad, the Selma, Ala., representative for the Nation of Islam. “The first 24 hours, thousands of comments were posted,” he said. 

Community organizers said the Wilkerson incident exposes a “decades long” pattern of such abuses in Troy and nearby cities, that have gone unnoticed nationally.  

“It’s been happening for years,” said Mr. Muhammad.

“They say the most dangerous time to be in Troy, Ala., is on third shift of the police,” he added. The night shift is notorious for police violence, according to residents and activists.

Black people are “mournful that it happened to the young Brother” but “thankful that it was exposed,” said Mr. Muhammad.

With police brutality and cold-blooded killing around the country, the situation is forcing us to unify for justice as the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has been advocating, he said.

“Hopefully and prayerfully, they will get justice,” added Mr. Muhammad.

The case also highlights how demands for justice in Alabama still suffer from the Old South demons of racism, economic injustice and abject fear among some Blacks.

“All the Black preachers were terrified,” declared civil rights activist and pastor Kenneth Glasgow. During a Dec. 30 rally in support of justice for the Wilkerson family, only one Black preacher from Troy was present, he said. Most others came from nearby Dothan, Ala., Rev. Glasgow said. City councilmembers were present, but afraid to speak, he said.

“These people are terrified of White folks … living in fear,” said Pastor Glasgow.

The rally held across the street from the Troy police department attracted a “very unified front … very diverse,” he said.

Pastor Glasgow has called on “all advocates, leaders and civil rights leaders” to join him in shutting down Highway 231 to place pressure on Troy authorities, if answers don’t come soon.   

Young and old alike expressed frustration and anger watching another brutality case unfold.

“It’s not justified for anybody to be whupped like this, not even an animal,” said one resident at the rally. He demanded Troy mayor and police chief do the “right thing” in this case.

Mr. Crump also explained that because of the current national political climate in America, injustices, discrimination and racism against people of color are not responded to. 

“We have to really be vigilant in defending the honor, the dignity and the lives of Black people like Mr. Wilkinson. Because if we don’t … next time it won’t be horrific injuries, it will be a death,” he warned.