Cops shoot 18-year old 16 times in Ottawa, Kansas

Joseph JenningsJoseph Jennings was 18 years old. He was depressed, had seizures, and was suicidal. His aunt, Brandy Smith, told Ottawa, Kansas police that her nephew tried killing himself with an overdose of pills last week. Two of the officers that took Joseph to the hospital for the overdose were among those who on Saturday, shot Joseph 16 times. Joseph was unarmed.

Smith said that she told the cops that Joseph was suicidal, upset, and to not shoot him. Her husband was within an arm’s reach of Joseph, but the cops threatened to shoot him if he got involved.

“I told them, ‘That’s Joseph Jennings, he’s suicidal, he’s upset, don’t shoot him,’” Smith said. “And that’s what I don’t understand is, why did it take them shooting him 16 times at least for them to bring him down? Why didn’t they bag him, knock him down, and then go and take care of whatever they needed to take care of?”

Smith said that her husband tried to help, but police threatened to shoot him too.

“My husband was going to tackle him. He was within arms reach. They said to get back or they were going to shoot him,” she explained.

Following standard procedures for officer-involved shootings, Ottawa police turned the case over to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI). Officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave.

 Joseph’s aunt said, “I never thought it would hit this close to home. My condolences go out to the victims of the Ferguson incident. I’m living it, too. The overkill and the police department not knowing how to handle those with disabilities.”


(The video on Youtube was removed for copyright infringement.  See the following link for videos by KCTV5.)


Posted on 08/26/2014, in Cases, Cops Gone Wild, Joseph Jennings and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 58 Comments.

  1. What was the justification for the shooting? I just don’t see it.

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      I don’t see it either, towerflower.

      I listened to the video Xena posted and hear Joseph Jennings’ father say that he asked the police to just let him tackle Joseph…so something must have been going on.

      His mother warned the police not to shoot Joseph telling them that Joseph was suicidal. Perhaps Joseph was doing something at the police hoping that it was enough to get the police to shoot him. But, shooting and killing Joseph was an overreaction by the police.

      I will wait to see the officer’s video to better understanding what Joseph was doing and how he was behaving.

      • It was Joseph’s aunt and uncle who were on the scene. Joseph was in foster care and his foster dad did say that Joseph had been having more seizures before he tried killing himself by overdosing on pills.

      • yahtzeebutterfly

        It is almost like the police WANTED to kill….why would’t they allow Joseph’s father to tackle Joseph??!

        Shooting him 16 times? That is inexcusable!

        And, why was Joseph, after being taken to the hospital two days before for overdosing by taking 60 pills, out on his own after only two days in the hospital? What a pity that someone couldn’t convince him to get help and check himself into some sort of counseling facility.

    • Towerflower,
      The cops say that someone called saying there was a person with a gun in the parking lot. The aunt says that two of the cops were those who had taken Joseph to the hospital just days earlier for an overdose and had good reason to know he was suicidal; and that Joseph did not have a gun.

      • yahtzeebutterfly

        Similar to a customer calling 911 at Walmart for a nonexistent threat…..

    • Two sides to a story

      The white part of my family is pretty much horrified at all these unnecessary minority killings by police as well as the police shootings involving white kids and adults, but I think we’re more aware of the impact on the minority community since we have several bi- and tri-racial family members. A lot of white folk sure like to excuse these shootings on a law and order basis – last I looked we had due process in our justice system and weren’t allowed to execute people in the street!

      • Two sides,

        … last I looked we had due process in our justice system and weren’t allowed to execute people in the street!

        You hit the proverbial nail on the head.

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      Great article…..think I will back to it a few times during the week and do some reflecting.

  2. Two sides to a story

    Unreal. I fear for my kids and grandkids and everyone else’s kids and grandkids, especially the autistic and mood-impaired. But clearly this shizzazz can happen to anyone. If you want someone killed or to get killed yourself, just call the po-po.

    • Jueseppi,
      Thanks for the reblog.

    • Jueseppi, I read a reason as to why Obama is so lukewarm in his remarks. There are two very important elections in Kansas and North Carolina that may turn those states blue. If he comes out too forceful it may keep those states red and that would be disastrous.
      Don’t have link but it makes sense to me. His tone from Ferguson to Isis was night and day and I was feeling exactly as you until I heard this.

  3. It is truly an unfortunate thing that the police are so scared of us citizens… I am truly sorry that they are in so much pain and have been through so much that they need to shoot to kill our friends and family to protect themselves from the communities they are supposed to be protecting. The compassion in our world and our country for one another is something we all should be proud of. I am especially proud of Law Enforcement around the country for the compassion they show in dealing with the people of the community especially those who need that compassion most. Like those in our less wealthy communities and those most at risk like the mentally ill.. Love you all. Namaste!

  4. I honestly feel for the family about this killing but I wish the police would be quicker to really let us know if he was really unarmed or not, at the moment all websites and news reports is that he was but if not?

    • Joe,
      You might have noticed that I have no problem reporting on injustices, regardless of the race of the victim. For this, I’ve been accused by cyber-extortionists of being “racist” for not reporting exclusively on “feral black youth.” They have their own blogs (or can have them) and can write on anything they want. They are not going to control what I we write about.

      Not a defense, but a truth, is that I reported on Ethan Saylor, a Down Syndrome man whose larynx was broken by sheriff deputies in Maryland. When Eric Garner was killed in the same manner, I made sure to let readers know that it happened before. Ethan was White.

      I find the “We don’t know” position in that inquisitr article to be one that seeks to oppress and silence. We write what is reported. People are entitled to their opinions and to fill in the blanks with reasonable speculation because that’s what people do when those in authority withhold information. Just because they withhold information does not mean that people stop thinking.

      What I do find somewhat hypocritical of the inquistr article is that it is posted as a “commentary” under “opinion” with no attribution to the author, yet takes a position that people should withhold their opinions and commentary. What does it tell us about the Dillon Taylor shooting? That he was 20-years old, White, unarmed, and shot by an African American police officer. The writer didn’t think so much of Dillon to even post where it occurred. That pretty much tells me that the writer isn’t concerned about people but rather, to race bait.

      • I have the utmost respect for you and what you share, I am quite aware of the shooting, where it happened and the small protest that is going on there now. What it tells us is what the media chooses to sensationalize and share with the public and who shares what. Is Dillon Taylor deserving of less of a public outcry? Is the officer that shot him less deserving of jail time? Is Dillon’s family not entitled to justice? It really has nothing to do with race. I wish I could have found a better article to link to yet the media chose not to say much especially the local media in Utah as they didn’t want to start a racial issue and end up having an issue similar to Ferguson..

        I was just called a racist for even mentioning the Dillon case it is unfortunate that it is how it is. I feel for both families and the families of the officers as well as the communities across our nation where race still divides…

        • Joseph,
          I hope you don’t think that I called you a racist. What I stated was directed at the agenda of the person who wrote the commentary that you linked to. I just Googled “Dillon Taylor” and guess what? Thus far, I found only one article that reported more than criticism that the story is not being reported. (sigh)

          The Washington Times even titled their article “Ferguson-like attack in Utah escapes media notice; race bias seen.” The Washington Times should have been able to do what they are accusing the media of not doing.

          Families can reach out on Twitter, or even to bloggers, to get the story out. When people subscribe to petition sites, they also receive notice as people reach out to have petitions signed. More than several times I’ve been contacted by activists or family members asking if I would report their story. I came to know of Howard Morgan and Ethan Saylor that way. I learned of Jennings today through Twitter. It was not because of any headline I read in any news source, and I seldom scan news sources for articles to write about.

          Yes, Dillon Taylor and his family deserve justice.

          • Xena, I did not think you called me a racist.. I believe you have a truly beautiful heart! I will let this just end with that thought. All citizens deserve justice no matter the race of the person. I believe that racism will end when we stop looking at each other as a color and start looking at each other as human beings. Thank you for all you do as you are truly sharing with love from your heart and doing your best to be part of the solution.

            • Joe,
              Thanks for your kind words and for clarifying that you did not think that I called you racist. You are right-on; all citizens deserve justice no matter their race. And, I’ll add to that, no matter their gender, sexual preference, religion, nor financial status.

  5. The other side of the coin…

  6. Open season on young people. I think the police should be held to a hire standard. They abuse their power way to frickin’ much.

  7. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Overkill again! I don’t understand …. why things like this happen? What’s the reason for the brute force? Where was the threat here? There was no other option? RIP …. What else?

    • Horty, thanks for the reblog. What I wonder is what happened to negotiators? Why is it that cops don’t talk in any manner other than to give orders, and then shoot?

      • I know …. There was no major threat. What about that taser? I just don’t know anymore. We have allowed our society, if you will, to become very violent, intolerant, prejudiced, unbalanced, unfair …. where’s the light at the end of the tunnel? Sad …..

  8. I can’t like this. The cops shoot him. The cops investigate. It seems like a conflict of interest to me.

  9. From another News report:

    “As I was looking, they kept getting closer. They pulled the guns out. They kept getting closer and closer. You could hear them tell him to, ‘Get down, get down,'” said witness Houston Harris.

    “By the time I got to my son, he maneuvered away from me,” said Bruton. “He went up toward the cop, he done something with his hand and about 15 to 16 cops shot rounds off on him, in his chest, his legs, everything.”

  10. And this:

    5:56 AM PT: Update

    News sources have updated their information on the occurrence, saying that the young man purchased either a BB Gun in one report or a Water Gun in another, and was pacing around rambling, which is why the police appeared.

    The new contention is also that while 15-16 police officers were present, 6-7 actually fired weapons. We are unsure of that number.

    • Glenn,
      Thanks for the update. The aunt seemed to be well aware that Joseph was committing suicide by cop and she begged for them not to comply. In Ethan Taylor’s case, his caregiver pleaded with them to wait and allow his mom to talk to him. The sheriff deputies did not wait. Joseph’s aunt and uncle wanted to help him and prevent the police from taking action. The police did not allow that.

  11. Situations like this make me think that the police may not know how to handle unarmed people in general.

    • Unarmed people, mentally ill people, people in crisis, hard of hearing people, blind people, disabled people.

      When a man who just killed and wounded numerous people in a movie theater can walk out and be seen by cops standing by his car, and they don’t fear that he is still armed and take him alive, they cannot tell me that they fear for their own protection when receiving a call of someone that someone else has a gun, (and no one has been shot), where their justifiable response is to kill the person.

  12. And yet again. Hugs, Barbara

  13. Weird, it says the video is no longer available due to Meredith corp (KCTV) copyright claim. maybe it’s just my computer and it’s still available on youtube.

    that kid’s face just makes me so want to scream!! poor thing. he was just a kid. just depressed and they just murdered him.

    • Shannon, thanks for the head’s up. The Flash on my computer crashes so much that when videos are blank, I automatically think it’s because of a Flash crash. I did download that video, but it would not convert so I could put it on Youtube. Now I see why — seems that news station does not want its videos available anywhere other than its own site. I’ve replaced it with a link to the news site that now has several videos available, including one of a Memorial service for Joseph.

      It bothers me that two of the cops were those who took Joseph to the hospital when he overdosed, and yet they thought nothing about shooting him.

  14. Cops Shoots Unarmed Woman Motorist To Death For Rolling Up Her Car Window:

  15. Culpeper Police Officer Charged in Fatal February Shooting
    Grand jury also charges officer’s mother-The grand jury also indicted Harmon-Wright’s mother, 55-year-old Bethany Sullivan, of Orange, on three counts of uttering and three counts of forgery of public documents. Their investigation revealed her alleged role in attempting to purge negative information from her son’ personnel file. She had been an administrative secretary to the chief of police when her son was hired.

    • Joseph,
      Thanks for the hat-tip. I’m blogging on the story because it’s important and might be missed here in comments.

  16. Wow. It does seem that when you are mentally ill in the States, you are doubly cursed…by your illness, and by how you’ll get treated by our society.

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