As family calls for answers, Lawrence police silent on investigation into fatal shooting by Topeka officer
Topeka ? A Kansas lawmaker is calling for more communication after Topeka police fatally shot a man during what authorities have described as a struggle.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Democratic Rep. John Alcala, of Topeka, says the city needs to “have a little empathy” and provide a liaison to the family of Dominique Tyrell White. The 30-year-old was fatally shot Thursday near a park. Police say his gun was recovered. White was months out of prison after being prosecuted for burglary and illegal gun possession.
Family spokeswoman Heather Joyce says police in Topeka and Lawrence, which is investigating, aren’t providing any information. Police also have denied requests from The Capital-Journal seeking the identity of officers involved and other records.
Lawrence police say there’s no information to provide while conducting their investigation.
The Capital-Journal reports that a research firm focusing on best practices for police released a 2015 report emphasizing the quick release of information during a crisis. Included in the report are lessons learned from the 2014 police shooting in Ferguson, Mo.
“If a police department is not part of the narrative that is written by traditional news media and social media in the first hours and days of a critical event,” the report from the Police Executive Research Forum says, “it will lose the opportunity to present its perspective on the story, and probably will never regain that opportunity.”
The report also says: “As a police executive, you often will receive advice from lawyers in your department or local government to be cautious and release information only when necessary. This advice is designed to minimize legal risks, but it often does not account for the damage that can be done to police-community relationships if police do not answer questions during a crisis.”