Support Our demands for LPD Accountability #LPDAccountability #NoMoreLoopholes

Support Our demands for LPD Accountability #LPDAccountability #NoMoreLoopholes

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Sarah Williams started this petition to Lexington Police Department and

To Lexington city and public officials, LPD, City Council members, Mayor Gorton and her administration,

On Saturday, February 2, 2019, a sixteen year old child was punched repeatedly in the head by the chaplain of the Lexington Police Department, Donovan Stewart. While local news agencies are reporting that there is more to the story, LPD has not provided further video footage or evidence of this claim. The two officers involved in this incident were off duty yet wearing LPD uniforms. Based on our understanding in previous conversations with the former police chief, once an off duty police officer is involved in an arrest, they are automatically “on duty” for insurance purposes and legal authority.

Donovan Stewart was not wearing a body cam because as an administrative employee of LPD, he is not required to do so. We intend to change that. Per local media sources, the body cam of the second officer “malfunctioned.” This is not the first time that LPD has used this excuse in protecting officers from accountability for their problematic interactions with the black community in Lexington. We can and will provide further evidence of this as we go forward.

This child’s dignity and humanity was stolen from him for no justifiable reason. Donovan Stewart should not be employed in community service work when he has physically assaulted a child. In any other service position with the community whether a nurse, a teacher, a mental health specialist, a counselor, or a PASTOR/CHAPLAIN, under no circumstances are we allowed to physically assault and abuse a child, even if that child hits and acts as what is perceived as disruptive. We say perceived because the child this pastor/chaplain/police officer, punched repeatedly in the head, is autistic. There is no way that a man perpetrating these acts on children in our community should be working in a spiritual/religious capacity with the Lexington Police Department. In African cultures it is understood that things must be healed/mended/addressed on a spiritual level before reaching the physical environment. Donovan Stewart must resign or be terminated from his position as Chaplain of the Lexington Police Department.

Following is a comprehensive list of our demands given the above stated facts:

1. Publicly acknowledge the names and positions of the officers involved. We cannot heal what we won’t acknowledge.
2. Release all body camera footage and mall security footage related to the incident. It has been stated that there is more to what happened than what we have seen in the cell phone footage, yet we have been provided no further video footage to address this.

3. Donovan Stewart must resign or be terminated from his position as chaplain of the Lexington Police Department.

4. All agents and/or officers of the Lexington Police Department, whether in uniform and/or interacting within the community, whether on duty or off duty, must wear a body camera to record their public interactions, failure to do so will be per se negligence. (Given the fact that off duty police officers become on duty police officers, in or out of uniform,  when making an arrest, we must close this loophole in accountability).

5. Body camera equipment and policy must be changed to ensure that no officer can ever escape accountability by the body camera “malfunctioning” or not being worn. This has proven to be a repeated loophole in accountability regarding problematic white male police officers interactions with our community.

6. Civilian oversight of police disciplinary actions. City council is the only input outside the department regarding police disciplinary action and LPD gets to decide which disciplinary actions are heard by the city council. As in Cleveland following the murder of Tamir Rice, we demand that local law/policy mandate a civilian, who has never been an officer be in charge of Internal Affairs.

7. Mandatory crisis intervention training for all officers, whether administrative or patrol.

8. Community evaluation of diversity and sensitivity training with follow through on community recommendations for changes.

9. All policy and procedures regarding the apprehension and detaining of a minor be made easily accessible to the community and, if punching is allowed per policy, this policy must be changed to ensure the safety and humanity of children encountering LPD.

We have several community leaders in contact with Chief Weathers in regards to a community meeting. It is disturbing that LPD has made no official statement to the community addressing this incident beyond releases to the press and council members. People in Lexington and across this region have deep concerns regarding the future safety of our children in public spaces within this city and it is of utmost urgency that you as a public official/employee listen to and respond to the voices and will of the people.

Thank you,

The Concerned Community



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