Ministers’ Conference demands release of body camera footage in Winston-Salem

Ministers’ Conference demands release of body camera footage in Winston-Salem
December 12
00:00 2015

Above: Bishop Todd Fulton, president of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity (File photo by Erin Mizelle for The Chronicle)

Group wants transparency from district attorney’s office

By Tevin Stinson

The Chronicle

Local ministers and clergy are demanding the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI) and the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office release video footage detailing an incident that led to a black man dying while in the custody of four police officers.

The Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity (MCWSV) held a press conference to urge Mayor Allen Joines, Chief Barry Rountree, and other elected officials recommend District Attorney Jim O’Neill release body camera footage obtained from the officers present during the death of 31-year-old, Travis Page on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

According to a police report, Corporal Robert Fenimore, Officer Christopher Doub, Officer Austin Conrad and Officer Jacob Tuttle responded to a reported discharging firearm at 4404 Old Rural Hall Road. Upon arrival, officers attempted to detain Page, who matched the description of the reported gunman. After a brief struggle with Page, one of the officers used pepper spray in order to gain control and place him in handcuffs. At that time, Page became unresponsive.

The officers performed lifesaving efforts but were unsuccessful. Page was pronounced dead at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Three of the four officers involved were wearing body cameras during the time of the incident.

MCWSV Third Vice President Rev. Alvin Carlisle said, “The conference is calling for the release of the video in a timely manner so that the truth can be revealed to a concerned community who deserves answers from elected officials who are expected to serve the people.

“We want full, entire and complete disclosure of the events on Wednesday night,” Carlisle said.

Although the case is currently under investigation by the NCSBI, the release of the video is under the control of the local district attorney’s office. Carlisle mentioned that for the sake of transparency, O’Neill should release the video to the public.

“We are saying to Mr. Jim O’Neill: Please release that video for the sake of transparency and understanding for the community,” he continued. “In some similar situations, video footage has been made public in a matter of days.

“As time continues to pass and the video isn’t made public, the more the public will begin to make their own assumptions.”

Bishop Todd Fulton, president of the MCWSV, said dozens of concerned members of the community have reached out to him via phone calls and social media demanding justice.

“We do not want what has happened all over the country to happen here.” said Fulton. “It’s becoming a trend. Somehow a number of African-American males are dying in the hands of police officers. We don’t want that to happen in our community.”

According to Fulton and other members of the conference, they plan to meet with the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office early next week.

The Rev. Dr. John Mendez, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, mentioned the actions of Jim O’Neill in the past has caused the black community to distrust the district attorney’s office altogether, and holding the footage is just making matters worse.

O’Neill played a role in the case of Kalvin Michael Smith, a black man who is currently appealing a murder conviction.

“We are determined to press the district attorney to do the right thing,” stated Mendez. “This is not the first time we have seen this. We have to keep this alive and on the top of the agenda because what affects one affects all.”

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