Emotions ran high in an east-side neighborhood Thursday morning after a man was shot and killed during an altercation with Topeka police officers.
Lawrence police officials said Thursday afternoon that two Topeka police officers discharged their firearms, resulting in fatal injuries to Dominique Tyrell White, 30.
The incident that led to the shooting began about 9:20 a.m., when police said a citizen called to report shots being fired during a disturbance in Ripley Park, near S.E. 3rd and Lawrence.
Police said the caller reported the disturbance involved two people, both of whom were still in the park.
Topeka police Lt. Colleen Stuart said officers who arrived at the scene “encountered a suspicious person in the area.” While investigating the individual, Stuart said, officers saw that he had a handgun.
“In the process of trying to secure the firearm, the individual struggled with officers and attempted to flee,” Stuart said. “While fleeing from officers, the individual reached for the pocket containing the firearm, causing the officers to fire their weapons.”
At least one of the shots struck White’s chest as he was in the intersection of S.E. 3rd and Lawrence, authorities said. The man suffered critical injuries and was transported by American Medical Response ambulance to a Topeka hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
An account from the Lawrence Police Department said White was armed with a firearm, and a physical struggle between him and Topeka police officers ensued. However, it didn’t say that White attempted to flee or that he reached for his pocket.
“We are not confirming or disputing anything the Topeka Police Department has released, but I would point out that what we released and what they released are not conflicting,” Lawrence police officer Drew Fennelly said in an email.
Following the shooting, Stuart said, police officers “immediately provided medical assistance and summoned AMR.”
AMR was contacted at 9:37 a.m. and transported White within 10 minutes, Shawnee County Emergency Management ambulance compliance officer Nelson Casteel said. The ambulance arrived at the hospital at 9:55 a.m. A second AMR unit also responded to the scene.
Stuart said the man’s gun had been recovered at the scene and all individuals who were believed to have been involved in the incident had been identified. She said the public wasn’t in danger.
In the minutes after the shooting, which was reported about 9:37 a.m., a large, vocal crowd of about 50 people gathered at the scene — many of them on the north side of S.E. 3rd, just west of where the shooting had occurred.
Several dozen officers from the Topeka Police Department, the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol converged quickly to control the scene.
Yellow crime-scene tape was placed around the intersection of S.E. 3rd and Lawrence by 9:50 a.m. to keep people back.
Officers stood nearly shoulder-to-shoulder just inside the crime-scene tape facing the crowd for about 30 minutes after the shooting. Most of the people who gathered had dispersed by 10:15 a.m.
By 11 a.m., the crime scene was expanded to encompass about half of the 200 and 300 blocks of S.E. Lawrence, to the north and south of where the shooting had occurred, and beyond a row of buildings in the Timberlee Apartments complex to the west.
About a dozen officers — including a Shawnee County sheriff’s K-9 unit — canvassed Ripley Park, across the street to the east of where the shooting occurred.
A number of people who came to the scene were taking photos and videos with their mobile phones.
Gerald Anderson posted a graphic, profane video on Facebook showing the shooting victim lying in the street. The video quickly tallied thousands of views, but the allegations discussed in the video couldn’t be immediately verified. The video had been removed from Facebook by 12:40 p.m.
Related: Chaos, anger, accusations: Video captures reaction immediately after Topeka shooting
Seated outside her unit at the Timberlee Apartments near S.E. 3rd and Lime, about an hour and a half after the shooting, Asalean Netherland lashed out at police, but also said people must obey the commands of officers.
“I’m just telling everybody in in this world, when the police tell you to stop, stop.” she said. “I mean it.”
A man who was using his phone to video the scene said he had been walking about two blocks away when he heard six gunshots. He said he came over to see what had happened.
Six yellow markers, where shell casings were found, were set up in the middle of the intersection where the shooting occurred. The T-intersection is composed of S.E. Lawrence running north and south along the west edge of Ripley Park, and S.E. 3rd, which runs only to the west.
Medical items used to treat the wounded man and a couple of pools of blood could be seen in the intersection, where the man lay bleeding until he was transported to the hospital.
According to Shawnee County court records, White pleaded guilty in 2013 to misdemeanor possession of a hallucinogenic drug, in 2014 to burglary, in 2015 to misdemeanor theft and in 2016 to criminal possession of a weapon by a felon.
Topeka police Capt. Mike Cross said Thursday morning at the scene that several witnesses had been taken to the Law Enforcement Center to be interviewed. On Thursday afternoon, it was announced that the Lawrence Police Department would lead the investigation into the incident, as it has done in the past in cases of police shootings in Topeka.
The Johnson County Crime Lab will conduct the forensics investigation.
Topeka police officials said the names of the officers in the incident weren’t being released at this time.
Copyright Topeka Capital Journal Sep 29, 2017
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