Shouting “mental illness is not a crime” and “the lives of autistic people matter”, protesters marched in the rain on Saturday afternoon in support of 19-year-old seriously injured by Lexington Police cruiser .
Liam Long suffered from a brain hemorrhage, a fractured nose and shoulder and multiple lacerations that required stitches after being struck by the cruiser on March 30 as he was going through a health crisis mental. His family said Long was autistic and remained hospitalized and could not walk unaided since the collision.
The LPD Accountability group organized the rally downtown because “we’re still searching for the whole truth” about what happened to Long, said community organizer April Taylor.
On Friday night, Lexington Police released body camera video that shows Long being hit by the cruiser after running down the street while being chased on foot by a police officer. Police said he had a knife and threatened police and his social worker.
Taylor said she believed there were more body camera images of the incident that might be relevant.
“These are body camera images that we would like to have access to,” she said.
But she admitted to the group gathered for the rally that the video’s release this week is “unprecedented.”
“We appreciate the release of the body camera images,” she said.
Taylor said LPD Accountability called for changes to the police collective agreement that would require body camera footage to be posted within three days of a critical incident or use of force, which she said , “Would be a huge step forward towards transparency and accountability. “
Long’s mother, Kendra Long, attended the rally but did not comment on the body camera images released by police.
She said she was “honored to have everyone show up today, especially in the rain, for Liam.”
And she said she was excited “to show that to Liam, when he gets it enough.”
The group marched from downtown courthouses to police headquarters to try to obtain a blank copy of the form the Lexington Police Department uses to file formal complaints against officers.
Formal misconduct complaints can result in disciplinary action, including termination, while informal complaints usually result in counseling, Taylor said. The form on the police website for citizen feedback is not the form for formal complaints, and Taylor said the police department should not be able to “filter” if a formal complaint is made. .
She said members of the group had tried unsuccessfully to obtain a blank copy of this form for some time.
“We don’t know if it will be used in this particular case, but without a copy of the form we cannot use it,” she said. “Due to how we have been prevented from accessing this form in the past, we think it is really important to get a blank copy of this form now, so we have it if we need it.” . “
The form must be notarized, but Taylor said citizens should be able to fill it out themselves and then sign it at the police station.
“It is time for them to stop obscuring the process, because citizens are not able to understand the process and empower citizens to defend themselves and to report when things are not done correctly,” said Taylor said.
When protesters arrived at the police station on Saturday afternoon, the front doors were locked and a policeman who came outside to speak with the group said it would be necessary to return on a weekday.
“The citizens of the community deserve to have all the forms and documents,” Kendra Long said afterwards. “We should all have access to any form, and we have clearly been denied.”