By Ken Miller and Adam Kealoha Causey, The Associated Press
Family members and advocates said May 2 they want answers about the death of an unarmed Black teenager who was naked when police in an Oklahoma City suburb fatally shot him weeks ahead of his high school graduation.
Isaiah Mark Lewis, 17, died April 29 from an unknown number of gunshot wounds. Edmond police shot him inside a house they say he broke into following a 911 call about a domestic disturbance. Several witnesses told police they saw him stripping his clothing while running through the neighborhood where officers would eventually confront him.
This May 1, 2019 photo shows the Edmond, Okla. home where police say a naked 17-year-old high school student, Isaiah Mark Lewis, was fatally shot Monday, after forcing his way inside. Police in the Oklahoma City suburb say two officers, Sgt. Milo Box and Officer Denton Scherman were not wearing body cameras when at least one of them fatally shot the unarmed teenager. Box has worked at the department for 17 years, and Scherman was hired in September. (AP Photo/Ken Miller)
It’s unclear what caused Lewis’ erratic behavior, but an Oklahoma City-area Black Lives Matter leader said May 2 that officers’ response shows an “inherent fear of people of color.” The Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson said her organization and Lewis’ family will press for more information and for better police training.
Dickerson said she did not know Lewis’ immediate family or his mental state, but she noted that running naked in public suggests there are “definitely some cognitive issues.”
“What we would really like to see is some type of training of how to deal with those types of mental diseases or mental impairments,” Dickerson said.
Contacted by phone Thursday, Lewis’ mother said she couldn’t talk because she was planning her son’s funeral service. But on May 1 Vicki Lewis said the only time she has heard from police was when they told her that her child had been killed, and she wants more information about what really happened.
“They don’t get to assassinate my son’s character,” the mother said during a press conference. “I think that everybody’s been clouded by what they heard, and people take information like that and run with it. And it’s not the gospel.”
Edmond police spokeswoman Jenny Wagnon said the department has communicated with the teen’s family.
“We understand that the Lewis family is grieving the death of their son,” Wagnon said, “but we’re at the point in this investigation where we have to let the facts play out.”
Investigators have yet to interview the two officers who followed the teenager when he forced his way into a house, Wagnon said. Investigators are working with the officers’ attorneys to arrange interviews.
Edmond police identified the officers involved as Sgt. Milo Box and Officer Denton Scherman. Box has worked at the department for 17 years, and Scherman was hired in September.
Neither was wearing a body camera during the shooting, Wagnon said. An officer who responded after shots were fired had a camera on his dashboard.
Officers said they chased Lewis as he hopped fences before breaking into the house. Inside, Wagnon said, Lewis fought the officers, and they then deployed a stun gun to subdue him. When that failed, at least one officer fired a handgun multiple times.
During a recording of a 911 call that prompted the police response Monday, a woman who identifies herself as Lewis’ 18-year-old girlfriend tried to take the phone from a neighbor to tell dispatchers that her “boyfriend just flipped out. I have no idea what’s going on.”
Kamri Pollock, who said Lewis was her boyfriend, later told KFOR-TV she saw no reason for police to be involved and that she wanted to know “what he was on.” Police said they would have to await a toxicology report to determine if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
During the 911 call, a dispatcher asked if the teenager was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and the girlfriend responded, “No, not today.”
Vicki Lewis said Wednesday that she did not know Pollock. She said her son was liked by teachers and that he hugged her every day when she dropped him off at school.
“What teenager does that? That’s the kind of person that he was,” she said. “So to be portrayed and assassinated in the public eye like that is devastating.”
Edmond Public Schools spokeswoman Susan Parks-Schlepp said Lewis attended an alternative school for students who were behind in their graduation requirements. His commencement ceremony was set for May 18.