Eddie Jones, president of the Los Angeles Civil Rights Association, called on the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office to fast-track its investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting of 38-year-old graduate student Bartholomew Williams that occurred over the weekend in student housing near Cal State San Bernardino.
"We are interested to know why lethal force was used," Jones said.
Jones made the statement Monday morning at a press conference held outdoors, on the corner of University Parkway and Northpark Boulevard, where the university is located in San Bernardino. Just before the conference began, Jones stuck a small American flag into the ground at the university's sign as a memorial to Williams.
Williams was shot five times Saturday night by two Cal State San Bernardino police officers during a disturbance in the University Village student complex as backup officers from the city of San Bernardino were speeding toward the campus, according to city police.
Jones said he believes that campus officers had access to Tasers and that they may have been able to take Williams into custody without the incident ending in his death. He also voiced concerns about two prior encounters that police had with Williams earlier in the day.
"If they had two encounters with him earlier, they were aware something was wrong," said Jones.
No details on those prior incidents are available yet. Cal State officials referred media requests to the San Bernardino Police Department, which is conducting the investigation.
Jones also asked that university police officers be retrained on the handling of mentally ill persons on campus. He and an associate are pursuing legislation to that effect, said Jones.
The press conference was also attended by Bishop Larry Jones, a minister at Crossover Outreach in San Bernardino. No law enforcement officers were at the conference.
The shooting occurred shortly after 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Campus police officers -- two men and one woman -- had wanted to take the 6-foot, 200-pound grad student in for a psychological evaluation. As they placed one handcuff on one arm, a physical altercation occurred, San Bernardino police Lt. Paul Williams said at the news conference Sunday, held in front of the housing complex at 1577 W. Northpark Blvd.
"This became a prolonged, violent struggle between the suspect and the officers," Lt. Williams said.
Officers used a series of progressive actions starting with verbal commands, then pepper spray and finally baton strikes, "all of which seemed to have no effect on the suspect," who was described by Lt. Williams as being "muscular."
"The suspect demonstrated some super human-strength, even disarming an officer of pepper spray," Lt. Williams said. At several other points in the struggle, the suspect attempted to wrestle a baton away from an officer, according to Lt. Williams.
After snatching the pepper spray, the student sprayed the officer it belonged to and later, when the same officer was on the ground, began kicking him "violently" in the head and chest, Lt. Williams said.
More details to come.
Reach Melissa via email or call her at 909-386-3878.
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