Community Protests Officer-Involved Shooting, Says Death Was Racially Motivated

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Friends and family protested the shooting death of Willie Tillman, a man shot by Fayetteville Police in April.

An internal investigation done by the Fayetteville Police Department concluded the officer’s use of deadly force was justified.

Tillman was the suspect of a traffic stop that police say escalated in his hands.

Wednesday, more than a dozen people gathered in front of the Fayetteville Police Department to remember the 33-year-old.

Protesters say his death was racially profiled and unnecessary, and they’re calling for accountability from the police department.

“I’ve always had pride of Fayetteville, and I just hope and pray there will be peace for Willie Tillman, because I’ve got three Willie Tillman’s of my own,” said Mary Matthews.

“A fun loving guy, he’s always bringing joy to the world,” described Michael Walton, Tillman’s Cousin.

Charlie Matthews, Jr. said “there’s better ways to use it than using guns.”

Tillman was pulled over in April by Corporal Patrick Hanby for driving without  a headlight and during the stop, officers say he became combative.

Officer Brandon Jones, a two-year veteran of the force was called in for back up to a traffic stop with Tillman, who initially used a fake name during the stop.

They say Tillman hopped back into his car and officers verbally and physically tried to stop him. In doing so, the two got caught up while Tillman drove away, one officer actually was hanging out of the car.

“A lot of our actions are based on the actions of Mr. Tillman,” said Sergeant Craig Stout.

During the event, two tasers were deployed but they didn’t stop the suspect, so officer Jones fired four shots, hitting Tillman in the leg, abdomen and chest. They say evidence shows Tillman attempted to take the gun away from Officer Jones.

“Mr. Tillman made a choice not to comply and unfortunately it put officers at a very bad position. So I don’t know anything they could have done differently to make sure that wouldn’t happen,” Stout said.

At the protest, one man said “they had two weeks to come up with this story.”

As they say they seek justice and peace , family and friends also search for accountability. Signing a list of demands including asking for an outside investigation and full release of footage from the shooting incident.

“It would take more of releasing of the investigation report, the cameras, so we can have more of a visual accuracy on the details, because right now, there’s some sketchiness on that,” said Leora Jackson.

Some protesting his death believe Tillman was racially profiled and others are asking why.

“I understand they got jobs to do too, I can’t take that from a police officer, but I couldn’t understand if he jumped in the car, why didn’t they just jump in their car, chase him,” said Charlie Matthews, Jr.

Officer Jones will return to duty effective immediately.

Before the arrests, Tillman had a slew of drug possession charges and three felony warrants for his arrest.

Our requests for dash cam, taser gun and security videos from the incident, were denied. It is up to the Washington Co. Prosecutor Matt Durrett to release them.

Durrett says he is awaiting the results of a criminal investigation by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and will then determine if or when the contents of the case will be released.

This story was originally reported by Tevin Wooten. You can follow this report and more at Tevin’s Twitter or Facebook page.

Before the arrests, Tillman had a slew of drug possession charges and three felony warrants for his arrest.

Our request for dash cam, taser gun and security videos from the incident, were denied. It is up to the Washington Co. Prosecutor Matt Durrett to release them.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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