After an encounter with police on Saturday night, 17-year-old Ulysses Wilkerson was left with bruises and a bloody, swollen face. BuzzFeed News reported officials in Troy, AL, are investigating the matter after Wilkerson’s mother posted on Facebook that her son had a fracture and had to be transported to University of Alabama Medical Center in Birmingham for surgery.
“He had trauma to the brain, swelling on the brain, and a cracked eye socket in three different places,” Wilkerson’s father, Ulysses Wilkerson, Jr., told a local CBS news affiliate.
In her now-viral Facebook post, Wilkerson’s mother, Angela Williams, asked for body and dash cam footage of her son’s encounter with police. Officials said police officers approached him in downtown Troy walking behind a closed business on Saturday night and the 17-year-old ran.
“City of Troy Police Chief Randall Barr requested the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) conduct an independent investigation into the use of force by his officers,” the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation said in a statement. “Chief Barr’s request was approved and Agents from SBI immediately responded to Troy, conducting interviews and collecting evidence.”
Brittany Patterson, a witness who drove by the scene as Wilkerson struggled with police said, “You could see the swelling of his face, you could tell he had a lot of bleeding.” She added that officers surrounded him as he appeared to be unconscious, noting, “He looked like he was passed out.”
“They had him handcuffed when we got in there,” Wilkerson’s father said. “They said he was charged with obstruction of justice, the ambulance came to take him to UAB the took the handcuffs off and dropped the charges on him.”
Williams’ post has now been shared over 77,000 times and the teenager’s family is demanding answers. Gerald Jackson, a local activist with Alabama’s We Want Justice Now, wrote on Facebook that Wilkerson, “feared for his life, safety, and ran from the police,” according to BuzzFeed News.
Below is a photo of Wilkerson’s injuries, it is extremely disturbing:
Update, 12/28, 5:49 PM: Splinter has received a statement from the attorneys representing Wilkerson and his family:
“We will do everything in our power to seek justice for Ulysses Wilkerson, an African-American teenager who was brutally beaten at the hands of police in Troy, Alabama, on the night of Dec. 23. We have been in communications with the state bureau of investigations, which has shared that they are diligently working toward answers for the community, the state and our country as they complete a thorough investigation. The family is adamant about the community staying engaged to help seek for justice for their 17-year-old son. This is not just a matter of black and white, it is a matter of humanity.”
Separately, the Troy Police Department said in a statement that Wilkerson was originally charged with misdemeanor obstruction and resisting arrest. Wilkerson’s father told WDHN that the charges had been dropped.