The following submission comes to us from Joseph Jenning’s mother. We believe it is important for victims and their families to have a voice. Please respectfully listen to what she has to say…
Joseph Jennings was 18 Years young and just starting to find himself when police shot and killed him last August.
Joseph also had been struggling with major depression on Aug 23 2014, as well as and related to a seizure disorder that dated back to 2006. That’s when he was diagnosed with Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome.
Joseph went what is called “code blue” during school and was immediately rushed to Children’s Mercy Hospital. Doctors performed open heart surgery on him to save him.
The doctors finally got his seizures disorder under control for a while, but then in 2011 he once again went “code blue” after getting him self a drink of water from the fridge.
His foster mother Brandy and Grandmother Charlene called 911 and had him airlifted to Children’s Mercy Hospital once again. But Joe never felt as if he could live a normal teenage life with his continued struggles with this disorder.
Even going to classes at school was challenging, after graduating he was not even able to obtain a drivers license unless he remained seizure-free for 6 months. But that never happened…
Joseph could not even go to a simple concert with out having a seizure. He tried so hard not to let this get him down. He even went on to college. But, as it turned out, on August 22, he had had enough with his disorder and other things that had been going on in his life. He eventually tried to swallow 60 pills in an attempt to take his life.
His aunt who was also like a second mother to Joe, along with her husband, called 911 the hopes that paramedics would get there in time to save his life. Two officers were first on the scene before the paramedics arrived. You would think they would be able to show empathy. Instead, they asked Joe, “Do you want to die or go to the hospital”
Joseph’s aunt talked to him and asked him to at least get checked out. He complied and was walked out by police and put in an ambulance. This established police contact with him. Officers in the area knew about the situation with him and the struggle he was dealing with, involving epilepsy.
On August 23, at 4:20 pm the hospital released Mr. Jennings against Brandy’s advice. She and her husband followed orders to watch him until 7pm… But it was around that time when things got bad.
Joe had called 911, stating that an armed man was in the parking lot.
The man he described fit his own description. He even informed dispatch his name was Joseph Jennings and this is where a stand off took place with police (10-14 Officers).
The police even called Joe by name, “Joseph show me your hand”. They knew him. He was never a threat to anyone other than himself, as he walked foot over foot pulling up his pants, when they demanded “let me see your hands Joe.”
His uncle Billy attempted to grab him softly to get his attention off police and police screamed: “Get the fuck back or we will shoot you.”
Bruton complied, and Joe went down by the road to get his aunt and uncle out of the line of gun fire after his Aunt pleaded with Joe to “please get down.”
One police officer yelled “bag em!”
Bean bag shots from the police shotguns rang out, hitting Joe in the shoulder and hip. The hip shot knocked Joe off balance and his arm came up and a shot was fired following 28 more shots.
No tasers were fired while Joe was still standing. A total of 29 bullets, hitting Joe 9 times, fired by 5 officers who seemed all too eager to shoot and kill Joseph.
As his family watched in horror, Joe was being taken from them. The District Attorney informed the family that their being there trying to once again save his life in fact only complicated things. How is an attempt to save someone you love complicating things? Why did the officers listen to family and let them intervene? Many questions still un-answered that we may never get answers too.
It was later confirmed Joseph was unarmed, holding only a cell phone and making no abrupt movements pantomiming anything that could be misconstrued as going for a concealed firearm.
The District Attorney informed family in a meeting before going public that the 5 officers actions was justified. Justified? How?
He said that it was because Joe had pointed a cell phone at police. But that never happened.
When family ask how that would be possible for Joe to quickly pull out his cell phone since the phone was in fact a very large AT&T curve, which is impossible to quickly withdraw from a pocket.
After this was pointed out, the police changed their story and informed the media that Joe pulled a pair of sun glasses instead!
The fact remains that he was unarmed, and if theses officers can’t tell a large cellphone from a gun, or a pair of sunglasses, then they are not suitable individuals to protect us.
Now to add insult to injury, people have been running over Joe’s memorial on purpose for weeks now, in order to bring negative attention to the one thing Joseph’s family needs to grief over their loss.
The memorial is a place family and go to honor Joe and talk about memories of him with candles light, and tears in there eyes. The family and friends have not done anything wrong, so why are they being punished?
In a meeting with Chief Butler on Sept 16, Mrs. Bruton was told that the police “had received some complaints” about the memorial. This was only days after the police had gunned her son down!
What can you do to help? Let your voice be heard on the 20th of December. That’s when the “We the People Have Had Enough” rally is going to be held!
The goal of the rally is to keep the memorial standing for as long as the family wants it up, and to tell the killer cops who shot a depressed young man with epilepsy that they need to back off and let this family grieve!
The secondary goals are to attract attention while bringing awareness to others in the community who have been the victims of police brutality and over-zealous killing. The organizers of the protest want to give other victims and their families the strength to stand up so that we all can make every life better.
Forward this article and use the hashtag #JosephJennings and #JusticeForJosephJennings on social media.
(Article by Brandy Bruton; edited by Moreh B.D.K.)