Family members and Black Lives Matter advocates are calling for more information about the death of an unarmed Black teenager who was naked when police in an Oklahoma City suburb fatally shot him.
Isaiah Mark Lewis, 17, was just a few weeks away from graduating high school when he was fatally shot by police on Monday with an unknown number of bullets. Edmond police say they received a call about a domestic disturbance, which led to Lewis being shot inside a home they say he broke into. Several witnesses told police they saw the teen stripping down his clothes and running through the neighborhood where officers confronted him, US News reports.
Police received the 911 call from a woman who identified herself as Lewis’ 18-year-old girlfriend. The woman, Kamri Pollock, claims she tried to take the phone from a neighbor to tell dispatchers her “boyfriend just flipped out. I have no idea what’s going on.” Officers say they chased after Lewis until he broke into a house. Police say Lewis fought them, and then they shot him with a stun gun. When that didn’t work, at least one officer fired into Lewis multiple times. Pollock told KFOR-TV she saw no reason for police to be involved and that she wanted to know “what he was on.”
While there’s no information on what caused Lewis’ strange behavior, an Oklahoma City-area Black Lives Matter leader said Thursday the officers’ response to Lewis shows an “inherent fear of people of color.” Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson and Lewis’ family will be working together to find out more information about the student’s death. Dickerson added that she doesn’t know Lewis’ family history or mental health, but running through naked is a sign Lewis has “cognitive issues.”
“What we would really like to see is some type of training of how to deal with those types of mental diseases or mental impairments,” Dickerson said. On Wednesday, Lewis’ mother, Vicki Lewis, said the only information she received from police was that her child was dead, and she wants to know more about what happened. “They don’t get to assassinate my son’s character,” the mother said during a press conference. “I think that everybody’s been clouded by what they heard, and people take information like that and run with it. And it’s not the gospel.”
A spokeswoman for Edmond police said the department has communicated with the teen’s family. “We understand that the Lewis family is grieving the death of their son,” Wagnon said, “but we’re at the point in this investigation where we have to let the facts play out.” Edmond police identified the officers involved as Sgt. Milo Box and Officer Denton Scherman. Neither officer was wearing a body camera; one officer who responded after shots were fired had a dashboard camera. Vicki reflected on her son’s character, saying he was liked by teachers and that he hugged her every day when she dropped him off at school.