GR NAACP, lawyer question decision to shoot suspect

Lamont Gulley was fatally shot by a Kentwood police officer on Feb. 8

Officer-involved shooting, lamont gulley, kentwood
This still image taken from dash cam video shows the officer-involved shooting of Lamont Gulley. (April 8, 2016)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The leader of the Grand Rapids NAACP and a defense attorney and reserve police officer have watched the video that shows police tasing, siccing a dog on and ultimately fatally shooting a homicide suspect.

They said what they saw leaves them with questions.

“We will be making a request, I’ll say that, sometime today, to meet with the mayor of Kentwood, the city commissioners and the chief to talk about some of the things that we have an issue with, because we do have questions,” said Cle Jackson, president of the Grand Rapids NAACP.

Jackson was shown the video before it was released to the public Tuesday morning.

Grand Rapids defense attorney and reserve police officer Edward Sternisha watched the video in his West Side office.

“I’ve got a problem with it personally,” Sternisha said

Lamont Gulley
An undated photo of Lamont Gulley courtesy his family.

Moments before he was shot, Lamont Gulley allegedly stabbed his wife to death in a Kentwood apartment with her 7-year-old autistic son in the home.

After threatening police and himself while brandishing a knife, Lamont was shot twice by Kentwood police Officer Darrin Cline.

While Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth said there is no criminal misconduct on the part of the officer who fired, Jackson said he wants to know more about what happened to the suspect.

“Even though the crime he committed was horrific, it was horrific,” Jackson said. “But again, at the end of the day, we want to make sure that the officer’s actions were justifiable.”

Both Jackson and Sternisha point out the suspect was on his back, was tased and was detained by a dog.

“My concern is that he was shot while he’s on the ground, unable to get up, my concern is, was he a threat?” Sternisha asked. “From what I’m seeing. I can tell you, I do have some big concerns about it.”

Sternisha said the threat to officers seems minimal, from what he’s seen.

“There was a threat to the dog, I understand it’s a police dog, but are you going to take a human’s life over a police dog? I would say no, absolutely not,” Sternisha said. “You have to exhaust other resources before you shoot, if you have them.”

The attorney said he believes a civil suit on the part of the suspect’s family is likely.

“If this was a scenario in a police academy, watching that on the video – no, I would not have shot,” Sternisha said. “I absolutely would not have shot.”

Both men pointed out that police are under significant pressure when confronting an armed suspect and that their judgments are based only on what they see on the video.

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