Today is Friday, August 18, 2017

Tension high at council meeting

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“The paper said there were no complaints against the officer that shot Greg,” said Antwon Hastings, the victim’s cousin, “but I filed one after I was abused and arrested by this officer for no good reason. What happened to my complaint?”

Other African American citizens expressed anger about being harassed by officers just because they drive a nice car or are seen leaving the housing projects. These citizens attended the meeting not only to express their concerns, but to show support for Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Huddleston and his statements that Public Safety Commissioner Billy Weeks and Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen should be fired.

“The reason I’m asking these two to leave is not just because of this incident,” Huddleston said, speaking of the shooting of Thompson, “but because other officers have complained about them … we have had officers leave to different counties for less money just to get out from under this leadership.”

Huddleston added that he understood the anger felt by the citizens, but urged them to stay calm.

“This room is full of policemen because they expect us to act up,” Huddleston said. “Violence is not the answer.”

Weeks made no public comments but was seen talking to some citizens privately. Bowen called after the meeting to make a statement of his own.

“I was unaware of some of the issues mentioned tonight,” Bowen said, “including the man who said he filed a complaint against the officer. We have a policy that supervisors take all complaints and then decide whether to give the complaint to me later or immediately. We welcome citizens’ comments because their feedback is how we measure our performance.

“I have been with this department for 20 years,” Bowen added. “Commissioner Weeks has said that we haven’t done anything wrong and I agree. This is an unfortunate incident all over, but I don’t deserve to lose my job over it.”

Bowen went on to confirm reports that he and the mayor had discussed moving him to a different position in the city but would not comment on why, only saying that it was months ago and unrelated to the Thompson case.

“I care about this city and what the citizens think,” Bowen said. “This is not a black and white issue. I agree with what was said tonight in that it’s time for this community to come together.”

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