Ulysses Wilkerson, a 17-year-old from Alabama, was beaten and left bruised and bloody with his face swollen beyond recognition after a still-unexplained encounter with Troy, Alabama police officers on Saturday. The Alabama State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) has opened an investigation into the use of force by the officers who interacted with Wilkerson that day.
The SBI released a statement that detailed the events of the night of Dec. 23. According to the statement, an unidentified number of police officers arrested Wilkerson. Buzzfeed reports Wilkerson was allegedly "walking behind a closed business in the city’s downtown late Saturday night" when police officers spotted him, left their vehicle, and attempted to approach Wilkerson. But he reportedly ran away, and the police officers chased him, which is when a "struggle ensued." According to news station WSFA, Wilkerson refused to comply with some of the officers’ demands and police claim that he began to reach for his waistband "as if reaching for a weapon."
"During the arrest, the juvenile was injured, and was transported directly to Troy Regional Medical Center," the SBI statement said. Wilkerson was then transported to the University of Alabama Medical Center in Birmingham before being released. The police statement only passively states that "the juvenile was injured" but makes no mention of how or by whom.
City of Troy Police Chief Randall Barr has requested an independent investigation by the SBI, and agents have already come to Troy to begin interviews. However, as Buzzfeed reports, Lt. Heath Carpenter would not say whether any officers had been put on leave or faced any consequences as of Wednesday. Carpenter further told Buzzfeed that "SBI does not have the ability to place any member of another department on leave."
Meanwhile, Wilkerson’s family has taken to Facebook to share photos of Wilkerson’s disturbing state and to call for justice for their son. Both of their posts have since gone viral.
"Troy police officers did this to my son while he was in handcuffs," Wilkerson’s mom Angela Williams wrote on Facebook in a post shared on Sunday. "I hope that they body camera was on and they haven’t told me shit yet."
Wilkerson’s father also shared a post on Facebook with more photos. "Police officers tried to kill my son," he wrote on Sunday. "He has massive swelling and they can’t start surgery until swelling goes down."
"He had trauma to the brain, swelling on the brain, and a cracked eye socket in three different places," Wilkerson’s father told news station WKRG. "From all over the world, people are commenting they want justice. They had him handcuffed when we got in there. They said he was charged with obstruction of justice. The ambulance came to take him to [University of Alabama Medical Center at Birmingham], they took the handcuffs off and dropped the charges on him."
"You could see the swelling of his face, you could tell he had a lot of bleeding. He looked like he was passed out or maybe in and out of consciousness," Brittany Patterson, an eyewitness, told the news station.
Rev. Al Sharpton took to Facebook and revealed that civil rights activists are planning to gather outside local police headquarters over the next few days to demand that the Troy Police Department release body camera footage and "terminate the officers involved in the beating of 17-year-old Ulysses 'Fat Daddy' Wilkerson."