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Lexington NAACP questions police response leading up to children’s murders

The Lexington chapter of the NAACP is calling for police accountability and questioning officers’ response during a welfare check.
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 8:20 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The Lexington chapter of the NAACP is calling for police accountability and questioning officers’ response during a welfare check the day before the deaths of two children earlier this month.

Nikki James, 43, is accused of stabbing her children to death and is facing two counts of murder. Police say 13-year-old Deon Williams and 5-year-old Skyler Williams were killed on May 2 at the Parkway Manor Apartments on Rogers Road.

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We know police responded to two calls at James’s apartment the day before the murders happened. One time was for a welfare check.

The NAACP is questioning whether Lexington officers followed state laws and police department policy. They’re calling on Mayor Linda Gorton and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council to “conduct an investigation to determine whether the Lexington Police Department violated state laws and their policies regarding their interactions with our most vulnerable citizens, children and people experiencing mental illness.”

In a press release, the NAACP said they want these questions answered:

  1. Did LPD officers witness a mother having a mental health crisis that should have resulted in her being transported to a psychiatric facility?
  2. Did LPD officers witness a mother who was unable to protect two children?
  3. Did LPD officers that responded to the 911 calls prior to the death of the children request help from a more trained officer in mental health?
  4. Did LPD officers reach out to the known governmental agencies and community resources that could have removed the children from the home prior to their death?

In response to those questions from the NAACP, the Lexington Police Department provided these answers:

  1. Officers did not witness anyone having a mental health crisis nor did they have “reasonable grounds to believe that an individual is mentally ill and presents a danger or threat of danger to self, family, or others if not restrained.”
  2. Officers did not witness a mother who was unable to protect her children
  3. Officers who responded did not request assistance from other officers, both officers that responded were CIT trained.
  4. Officers did not reach out to other governmental agencies to remove the children as they did not observe conditions that would require such action.

The police department said the officers that responded to the welfare check the day before the children’s murders are Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained. They said that’s a 40-hour training course that teaches signs and symptoms of mental illness, medications used to effectively treat mental illness, verbal de-escalation skills and active listening skills, and resources available.

Mayor Gorton’s office provided this statement to WKYT:

“This is an open case. The Mayor’s Office has no comment outside of the police response.”

You can read the full statement from the NAACP below.

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