Council members express frustration over fatal shooting during Mobile police raid

Mayor explains decision to halt most pre-dawn raids, order review of policies and training
The Mobile City Council on Tuesday considered a proposed ordinance that would govern the release of body cam footage.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 7:17 PM CST
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - City Council members on Tuesday expressed anguish over the fatal shooting of a teenager during a police raid related to marijuana.

The shooting occurred early Monday morning when the SWAT Team surrounded a house on Sheringham Drive, off of Cottage Hill Road. Officers were there to execute a warrant based, authorities said, on probable cause that marijuana distribution had been taking place at the address.

According to an account provided by Chief Paul Prine, the 16-year-old was armed with a laser-sighted pistol and that the laser scope pointed at the officer.

Regardless of the circumstances, several council members and residents questioned why police entered the house in the dark for a relatively minor offense.

“We entered that place like we were going to find a murderer, that was holding a gun at somebody’s head,” District 2 Councilman William Carroll said.

He noted that police were not there for the 16-year-old but were looking for 18-year-old DeAngelo Adjessom, whom they later arrested.

“That makes this a thousand times worse,” he said.

Carroll said a homeowner may not realize it is police when they hear commotion during the wee hours of the morning. He recalled that someone knocked on his door several years ago, causing his daughter to think someone was breaking in. He said his wife prevented her from using a gun.

“What are y’all gonn do? Kill her?” he said.

District 1 Councilman Cory Penn said the teenager’s death was “very personal” to him teenager was the child of a neighbor he knew for many years.

“A 16-year-old lost their life,” he said. “We got to make change.”

Added Council President C.J. Small: “It’s time for some things to change. … There have been too many incidents this year.”

This was the fourth time this year that someone has died during a confrontation with Mobile police.

“We are keenly aware of incidents that have occurred,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson said Tuesday. “And we are trying to make sure that we’re protecting everyone.”

Monday’s shooting prompted Stimpson to order a temporary halt to pre-dawn raids except in extraordinary circumstances, with approval at the highest levels. He also asked Kenyen Brown, the former U.S. Attorney in Mobile, to conduct a review of the department’s policies and training.

“People are expecting us to do something differently,” he said after Tuesday’s council meeting. “We don’t like the outcome of what happened yesterday. I want to make sure that we’re doing something differently. And so that is why we’re doing it.”

Stimpson said the city has reached out to the 16-year-old’s family for an opportunity to see the body camera video. He said that is possible because there have not yet been grand jury subpoenas issued as is the case in the case of Jawan Dallas, a Theodore man who died during a confrontation in July at a mobile home park.

Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood said this latest shooting will be handled the same way as other cases involving killings by police officers.

“This case will be treated consistently with how we treated other cases,” he said. “You know, we have a process. There’s an investigation, multiple investigations, as a matter of fact that happen. … Once we are provided all of the information from the investigation, we will present it to a Mobile County grand jury.”

The council on Tuesday considered a proposed ordinance for the first time that would govern the release of body cam footage to people captured on those videos or, like in this case, a family member. It largely tracks with state law but requires the city to provide a written explanation if it denies a request to see it.

“Transparency is the key, and that’s what the community is wanting, is transparency,” he told reporters. “So the council is trying their best to make sure that the body footage, or cameras, are available to the public as long as we follow state law.”

City official said Brown will be paid an hourly rate for his work but that the details have not yet been negotiated. The council on Tuesday also approved a $194,000 contract with PM Group to improve community engagement by the Police Department.

Stimpson suggested the review and the policy change shouldn’t be viewed as a rebuke of the police force. He said the city’s officers are well-trained but have been “stretched thin” in recent years.

“I definitely have faith in the Mobile Police Department,” he said. “I would say that being a policeman today is the most challenging occupation that exists. I would truly not want to be in their shoes having to do the things that we’re asking them to do day in and day out.”