Jerald A. Berry said he was shot by Wichita Police in a 2008 altercation in a nightclub parking lot. He said if police had been wearing body cameras it might have helped prove he wasn’t a threat and shouldn’t have been shot.
Speaking in front of city council members this morning, Berry urged the council to consider funding cameras that mount on police officers.
“It polices the police,” he later said.
Berry, who is now 32 years old, said he was at Max’s Club on South Rock Road Aug. 3, 2008 when several gang members had threatened to settle an argument with gunshots. Six police officers arrived and fired 16 shots, according to previous Eagle reporting. James Ware was shot several times. Police said the officers saw Ware with a weapon, and ordered him to put it down. When he didn’t, officers shot at him.
During the trial, Ware’s lawyer played video taken at the scene from a bystander’s cell phone showing that the assault rifle never left the vehicle before Ware’s shooting. The jury later found Ware had not committed any crime.
Berry said his story is similar to Ware’s, though he was shot through the foot. Berry said he was never charged with a crime in connection to that incident.
Berry, a member of Sunflower Community Action, said police cameras could have proven his role in the situation that night. Those accompanying Berry showed large photos of his foot, which had a bloody entry and exit wound.
Council member Lavonta Williams asked City Manager Robert Layton to look into the cameras.
Sunflower began pressing for the cameras a year ago during a meeting with Layton and Police Chief Norman Williams. At the time, the city said it would evaluate priorities, including a new digital radio system and electronic ticketing systems that could cut costs.
Layton said today that the city’s initial review found that the cameras, which were mostly being used in pilot projects in Europe at the time, weren’t practical. But new equipment being used appears to be better, he said. The city and Sunflower agree that cameras have merit, but the decision will come down to money and availability of grants, he said.
“It’s just the cost of the technology,” he said.
Police began a pilot project in 2008 that put dash-mounted cameras in eight police vehicles. Meanwhile, the city has been beefing up its data systems to transmit large volumes of video.
Sunflower asked Williams to come to a public meeting on Dec. 4 at 11 a.m. at Sunflower’s office at 2201 E. 13th St. to talk about the issue more.