Archive for Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ottawa shooting victim’s aunt said he wanted officers to shoot

August 24, 2014, 10:57 a.m. Updated August 25, 2014, 11:02 a.m.


— The aunt of the 18-year-old Ottawa man who was killed by authorities said on Sunday her nephew suffered from a range of medical issues and wanted officers to take his life.

Officers with the Ottawa Police Department were dispatched to the Orscheln's Farm and Home parking lot, 2008 S. Princeton St. in Ottawa, in response to "a person reportedly armed with a gun" at approximately 7:50 p.m. on Saturday, Cpt. Adam Weingartner said in a news release.

Responding officers, including deputies with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, made contact with the person, later identified as Joseph Jennings, in the parking lot. A shooting took place during the encounter, and Jennings was eventually transported to Ransom Memorial Hospital where he died, Weingartner said.

Brandy Smith, Jennings' aunt, who lives within eyesight of the shooting scene, said she witnessed the incident. She did not see Jennings holding a gun and said that if he did have one on him, it would have been a BB gun.

Joseph Jennings, shown here in a portrait from the 2011 Oskaloosa Junior-Senior High School yearbook, was killed in a shooting involving Ottawa and Franklin County authorities.

Joseph Jennings, shown here in a portrait from the 2011 Oskaloosa Junior-Senior High School yearbook, was killed in a shooting involving Ottawa and Franklin County authorities.

She said she and her husband could have diffused the situation if she had been allowed to talk to Jennings.

Jennings' foster father said his son was approaching authorities when he was shot. William Bruton told KAKE-TV that Jennings was shot in his chest and legs.

Witness Houston Harris says officers had their weapons drawn and told Jennings to "get down."

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is handling the investigation of the incident, according to the news release. Officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave while KBI conducts the investigation. Both actions are a "matter of policy," Weingartner said.

At a press conference Sunday afternoon, a recording of which was provided to the Journal-World by KOFO radio station in Ottawa, Franklin County Attorney Stephen Hunting said an autopsy would be performed Sunday.

He said that detailed information on what precipitated the shooting would not be released until after the investigation.

"We want to be as transparent as we can with the public," Hunting said. "At the same time, we will not be releasing a significant amount of detail about what occurred at this point, for the simple fact that the investigation's ongoing."

Citing exhaustion, Smith declined to give detailed information on what led to the shooting in a brief interview with the Journal-World.

She called the officers' use of force "ridiculous" but also said she would let the ensuing investigation decide if it was justified.

Jennings lived with Smith off and on. He battled seizures, migraines, depression and other conditions his whole life, Smith said.

Twelve hours before the shooting, Smith said, Jennings attempted suicide at Smith's home. He had been out of the hospital for three hours before the confrontation with the authorities, she said.

According to Smith, two officers who responded to the failed suicide were present at Orscheln's parking lot.

A graduate of Oskaloosa High School, Jennings was supposed to begin school at Neosho County Community College on Monday.

"He was very intelligent, loved animals and his family," Smith said. "He will be missed."

At the Sunday press conference, Ottawa police Chief Dennis Butler said, "On behalf of the members of the Ottawa Police Department, we mourn the loss of any life. We extend our heartfelt condolences and compassion to the family of Mr. Jennings."

Generally speaking, Butler said police can use "force" when officers and other civilians are, or believe to be, in imminent danger.

Orscheln employees declined to comment on the incident.


James Garvey 3 years, 9 months ago

Perfect example of what happens when you give arrogant, cocky individuals a Badge and a Gun!

Steve Jacob 3 years, 9 months ago

So police aren't allowed to fire a gun when someone reports his is armed?

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 9 months ago

No, they are allowed to use force when they confirm that the person is armed and that they are preparing to use the firearm, not just because someone says so.


James Garvey 3 years, 8 months ago

Shouldn't the LEO's at least CONFIRM a WEAPON is present before they just start BLAZING away?

Randall Uhrich 3 years, 9 months ago

Your worst nightmare: A punk with a badge!

Kirsten Myers 3 years, 9 months ago

Sounds like the police did the job they were hired to do. Why do people have to be so negative when someone chooses to break the law and wave a gun. Frankly I am quite sick of everyone hating on police doing what they are supposed to do. What if the suspect had harmed someone in that business? What if he had shot a child? The police are called to keep citizens SAFE. Are the people here who have made comments really that STUPID.

Steve Garvey-- I do not include you in my comments as you seem to have the ability to think rational thoughts.

Randall U. and James G. ---- What brain cells are you using to decide that the officer is a punk? What makes you think he did anything wrong? Very little information was given in the article and yet you jump to conclusions and decide he is a punk with a badge.
You should be ashamed!

I am certainly ashamed when I turn on my television and see how people behave in the country where I live.
I am ashamed when I read newspaper accounts both in print and online.
I wish we could learn to get along as a nation. I wish we could support our neighbors and our government more. I also wish we could stand behind our police and politicians. I do not think I will see any of this in my lifetime.

-- I guess I will step off my soapbox now.

James Garvey 3 years, 8 months ago

@Kirsten Myers..... In the original article there was a statement from the Police Spokesman that said "They responded the way they were they were instructed at the Academy". What does that imply to you about their Law Enforcement experience?

Juan Brown 3 years, 9 months ago

Could the first officer hit him with a taser until it was verified he had a gun?! You know, one officer with his gun drawn waiting to see if deadly force was actually needed before it was used? I know, how can any officer expect to use restraint against someone they knew was suicidal?

Brock Masters 3 years, 9 months ago

Great strategy bringing a Taser to a gun fight ......maybe they could have used tar bars instead.

Juan Brown 3 years, 8 months ago

What gun? He wasn't armed. Regardless of the 'report', it would be nice to see an officer prepared for non-lethal ways while another officer was ready in case the FALSE report was true. I know, I know, shoot first and let God sort them out... One officer was able to shoot in him in the legs, that wasn't enough? No, probably not because at least one of the officers seemed ready to shoot away... Also, they knew he was suicidal and I guess Andy/Barney from Mayberry have never heard of 'suicide by cop'. Sad...

Glenn Reed 3 years, 9 months ago

Let's begin rioting right now. Or, since we don't have all the information, we can wait a bit until we do.

Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 9 months ago

We have more information on this shooting then the ferguson police have released to date.

Brock Masters 3 years, 8 months ago

But we still don't know if he had a fun when he was killed.

Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 8 months ago

No we don't, and if he had a BB gun then he brought this on himself if he pointed it at the officers, they have no way to know for sure until after the fact. My point was just that this is more along the lines of how information is released, not the secrecy that the FPD has shown

Jim Phillips 3 years, 9 months ago

I am always amazed by the fact that everyone knows how to do a cop's job...except the cop! Tell you what, the next time any of you cop bashers need surgery, come see me. I've never been a doctor, but I'm sure I can do it better than surgeon. I've watched them on TV.

Fred Mion 3 years, 9 months ago

What a bunch of Monday morning quarterbacks. It's pretty easy to second guess from the cheap seats.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 9 months ago

A consequence of not expanding Medicare? If he had attempted suicide he should have remained in the hospital until he had received enough treatment. But I'll bet he had no insurance, and there were no facilities to take care of him. Oh well, everyone enjoy your tax break.

John Graham 3 years, 9 months ago

"A consequence of not expanding Medicare?" What? Did you mean Medicaid? Whether he had insurance or not would not be an issue with respect to whether or not he was admitted to a hospital for an unsubstantiated claim of attempted suicide.

Brock Masters 3 years, 8 months ago

First, it is Medicaid, not Medicare that is at the issue of expansion. Second, you don't know if he was eligible for a subsidy or not and he could have been on his parents insurance.

But don't let the facts get in your way of being snarky.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 8 months ago

Sorry, I get the 2 mixed up. And yes, he would have been eligible. He apparently had recently aged out of the foster care system, so he also aged out of Medicaid. I'm not sure where his parents are. There are no mention of them in any of the reports, only his aunt and uncle.
Regardless, that doesn't answer the question, why was he released from the hospital after attempting suicide? You can't cure people of depression that quickly. You can have someone committed if they are a threat to themselves or others. That doesn't have to be voluntary. The libertarians would have liked to get rid of that one too, but it has saved some lives, not the life of this poor kid though.
Dr. Thomas Szasz claimed that most people were wrongfully committed. but instead of advocating for more oversight, he and the libertarian party just gave those who didn't want to spend the money a way to close down mental facilities and not help those who really did need to be committed to save their lives and others. Look at the proposal for a new jail. They need a section for those who are mentally ill. So now jails and prisons are suppose to take care of those mentally ill that need the help, not hospitals? How is that different than the old mental hospitals that just warehoused the mentally ill?
Oh, and please define snarky. If you are one of the ones who would rather not pay taxes to help out the mentally ill, then my comment was the truth. You're the one that has to live with the consequences of your beliefs. If this boy didn't get the help he needed, because you don't like taxes and you hate Obama, then that's what you believe. Don't try to be phony about it. Just enjoy the money you got to keep, right? Fortunately this poor kid only wanted to hurt himself, not you.

Brock Masters 3 years, 8 months ago

Let's start with defining snarky. "Oh well, everyone enjoy your tax breaks" is snarky. So is, don't let the facts......

Now, let me ask, where is the tax break I received?

What proof do you have that help wasn't available for him? Based on the article he was in the hospital prior.

Finally, you're blaming the libertarian party. Show me one piece of legislation introduced by a member of the Libertarian party a way to shut down mental facilities. As far as I know only democrats and republicans have proposed and passed such legislation.

Show me where I am wrong.

John Graham 3 years, 8 months ago

Glad you all the "facts" about what happened. You are the typical "American Conscience" in that you rush to judgement and make statements without bothering to wait for the facts to be made public. Therefore your opinion is easy discard.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 8 months ago

It wasn't Obama and Holder who refused to expand Medicaid, so they had nothing to do with this. Why do you not want Kansas to have decent health care for people, like this boy who was suffering? Is it because he couldn't afford it? I understand he was recently aged out of foster care. They lose everything when that happens. What happened to mental health care in Kansas? Oh yeah, you should only get enough mental health care that you can afford, kind of like education. That's the libertarian way.

Brock Masters 3 years, 8 months ago

Dorothy, my comment was in response to the question of who will speak up for this boy?

Interesting that post is gone.

I figure if they spoke out on the Ferguson incident they can surely speak out on this one.

Don't get your beef with libertarians.

Go back and look at my posts and they are all supportive of quality and accessible mental health care.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 8 months ago

Will you vote for the right people who will help to restore our mental health facilities, even if it means we pay more taxes. Do not vote for the people who have gutted our health care.

James Garvey 3 years, 8 months ago

Another young life snuffed out way before it's time. Prayers are with the Family/Friends of Mr. Jennings. May the Lord be with them

Brock Masters 3 years, 8 months ago

Just my opinion, but it isn't looking good that he had a gun. If he did, then surely the police would have reported that by now.

If they shot an unarmed teen who was not in the act of a crime and posed no threat then they should face murder charges. Rioting is optional.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 8 months ago

Thank you so much for your comments Dorothy.

"Twelve hours before the shooting, Smith said, Jennings attempted suicide at Smith's home. He had been out of the hospital for three hours before the confrontation with the authorities, she said.

According to Smith, two officers who responded to the failed suicide were present at Orscheln's parking lot."

He lived with his aunt on and off so she must have had him put in foster care. Why?

Again we will have to wait and hope for answers. After all if you put this in the paper and add a comment section you will have to expect people to have questions about what happened.


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