Town Troubled by Shooting Death of Teen by Police, Demonstrations
TROY, Ohio (AP) _ This city has been rocked by three nights of demonstrations over the death of a teen-ager who was shot 11 times by police, and the protests escalated to a rock- and bottle-throwing fracas in which 24 people were arrested.
″These are really tough times for us. We are not used to this,″ Arthur D. Haddad, service and safety director of the city of about 18,000 people 20 miles north of Dayton, said Tuesday.
″I lived here two years, and I always thought this town was very docile,″ said restaurant owner Steve Hurney.
″It was a nice town, and all of a sudden it broke out. It’s just so strange,″ said Teresa Flory, who works at a restaurant where many high school students hang out.
Police said officers James Fox and Steven Cruea fired 12 shots at 18-year- old Kerry Helton on June 9 when he threatened them with a 4-inch knife in the bedroom of his mother’s house. Helton was hit 11 times.
The officers had been sent to the house because of a report of a fight.
Helton was to have appeared in juvenile court the day after he was shot to face charges he had assaulted a police officer May 24.
About 100 demonstrators, most in their teens and early 20s, congregated Saturday night in the downtown Public Square for a peaceful candlelight vigil.
Placards labeling Troy police ″Killer Cops″ were carried by some of the about 250 people who showed up Sunday, and some signs demanded the ouster of Fox and Cruea. Several people were cited for honking horns unnecessarily and blocking traffic, said Police Chief Charles W. Frank.
The violence came after Monday night’s City Council meeting, when about 40 people packed the chambers and demanded to know why Helton could not have been subdued less violently.
″We understand we don’t know all the facts. At our age all we can feel is rage,″ said Jenny Short, 18. ″But we are not a bunch of crazy kids who want to humiliate the police department.″
Council members refused to answer questions until the investigations are complete. After the meeting, about 100 demonstrators began throwing rocks and bottles, Frank said.
After he read them the state law on riots, Frank gave the protesters five minutes to leave. Then about 70 officers from Troy, Piqua, Tipp City and the Miami County Sheriff’s Department were ordered to break up the crowd.
Troy’s last brush with mass violence was in the late 1960s and early 1970s during a series of racial demonstrations that followed years of unrest.
Most of the arrests were for disorderly conduct, Sheriff Luther Dunfee said, although two adults and a juvenile were charged with misdemeanor rioting and at least four others were charged with parole violations.
″I was scared last night. Everything seemed really tense. I was afraid someone was going to get shot,″ said Kathy Jackson, who works at a small grocery store a few doors from the square.
″I think the whole town is really upset,″ Ms. Jackson said. ″You just don’t go out and shoot a boy like that. People every day say, ’Why didn’t they use their billy clubs or shoot him in the leg or something?‴
Steve Hurney, for whom Helton worked as a cook for more than a year, described the youth as tough but well-liked and the best worker he’s ever had.
Fox and Cruea are on leave with pay pending an investigation, but Frank said he thinks they acted properly.
Miami County Prosecutor Jeffrey Welbaum will present the case to a grand jury and has asked prosecutors from neighboring Darke and Shelby counties to review the case to ensure fairness.
″We are going to have to do a lot of soul searching, there’s no doubt about it,″ said Mayor Douglas A. Campbell.