Members of the Mobile City Council spoke on the shooting and killing of a 16-year-old by a Mobile Police officer during the council’s meeting Tuesday.
On Monday, at approximately 5:37 a.m. the Mobile Police Department conducted a raid on a home under the pretense of executing a search warrant for marijuana possession. The police claim they knocked multiple times before SWAT and narcotics teams entered the home. Once inside they encountered a 16-year-old who was holding a weapon, the police said, and one officer fired and struck the teenager in the torso.
The 16-year-old was not the target of the raid and would lose his life as he would later succumb to his injuries after being sent to Springhill Hospital. Immediately after the raid and shooting Mayor Sandy Stimpson ordered that most pre-dawn raids be suspended.
Councilmember William Carroll was appalled that the teen’s life was lost over a marijuana warrant.
“On a marijuana warrant come on,” Carroll said. “You know all the states right now that are making marijuana legal? Legal! On a marijuana warrant? It wasn’t like somebody killed somebody. But we entered that place like we were going to find a murderer, that was holding a gun at somebody’s head. Man that is incomprehensible.”
According to pictures from the scene, there appeared to be a heavy police presence despite the warrant being for only one individual on a seemingly minor drug charge.
Carroll revealed that several years ago someone knocked on his family’s door and his daughter, perceiving a threat, grabbed a gun but his wife stopped their daughter from potentially shooting someone. Carroll asked, “what y’all gone do, kill her too?” Carroll also announced to the family or stakeholders to make a request to make that if they want to see the body camera footage before the city takes the stance of sending the information to the district attorney as evidence in a grand jury trial.
Mobile City Attorney Ricardo Woods said they have reached out to the family twice and were in the process of allowing the family to view the body camera footage “within the next 24 hours.” Woods said he was also looking forward to working with the city council on a proposed new ordinance related to transparency involving body camera footage.
The new ordinance would make recordings available to be disclosed if properly submitted in compliance with the state rules. However, if the request to see the footage is denied, the city will have to provide a reason as to why.
Alabama signed and implemented a new law this year that allows either a person who appears in the footage or the representative of a person who is in the footage but died to view it. The law went into effect on Sept. 1, but the police still have discretion to deny or allow the representative from seeing the footage.
Councilmember Cory Penn said he believes pre-dawn raids should not be performed when children or minors are present at homes. Aside from the 16-year-old, there was also an 8-year-old child present when the raid occurred. Smalls also called for more transparency and accountability and that the community should continue to demand changes.
Councilmember C.J. Small said it was time for some things to change given the number of incidents that have occurred throughout the year regarding the police killing or using force against citizens.
“It’s time for some things to change,” Small said. “…When I first voted for the body cameras I thought they would be publicly displayed which it is not. There have been too many incidents this year.”