Anger boils over at community meeting on Gainesville shooting
Sheriff's office, police name 9 officers who fired at 16-year-old
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A meeting between community members and the Alachua County sheriff and Gainesville police chief about Sunday night's fatal shooting of a 16-year-old began with a prayer, but ended a half-hour later with shouting as the teenager's mother was addressing the crowd.
Robert Dentmond was shot and killed in the parking lot of the Majestic Oaks Apartments after he called 911 about 10 p.m. to say he was suicidal and had a high-powered rifle. Deputies and police said they had no choice but to shoot the boy, who was brandishing a weapon and threatening to kill himself.
Police learned the next day the gun was a realistic replica -- not a real gun.
As Dentmond's mother took the pulpit at the Power House Family Worship Center, tensions were building. Then a man in the audience began shouting at her.
"What is (she) doing here?" the man called out.
Someone in the crowd responded: "Do not interrupt her. Let her talk."
The mother responded: "You're being real ghetto right now. Is that going to help my baby? Is what you're doing fixing to bring my baby back?"
When the man parroted her statement back to her, the meeting erupted into shouting and Dentmond's mother left the pulpit in tears.
The meeting was put together by the Sheriff's Office, Gainesville police and the State Attorney's Office, along with the NAACP, the Gainesville Ministerial Alliance the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and representatives of the Alachua County Black on Black Crime Task Force.
Alachua County Lt. Brandon Kutner said the purpose of the meeting was to bring everyone together and allow law enforcement to be completely transparent about what happened.
"We want to give the community an opportunity to ask their questions, have them answered, and also for them to understand from a law enforcement perspective why we did what we did and what precipitated those actions," Kutner said.
Alahcua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell spoke at the beginning of the meeting, but after the meeting abruptly ended, some said they felt frustrated and that their concerns were not heard.
Some people News4Jax spoke with after the meeting said they weren't surprised at how it turned out.
“There's a lot of emotion here, and the community is jusitfied in their concern, because it could be anybody's son or daughter, you know?” Claude Burley said. “ How we handle it and respond to these kinds of things, you're going to have these kinds of reactions. This is normal. And matter of fact, I thought it was quite contained under the circumstances."
"The key is that we wanted to keep it civil and it was getting to be a shouting match in the way that just changed the whole tone,” Gainesville City Commissioner Helen Warren said.
Deputies, officer who fired on leave on desk duty
Hours before the meeting began, authorities from both agencies involved in the shooting announced the names of those involved.
The Alachua County Sheriff's Office said Sgt. Christopher Sims and deputies Robert Campbell, Jason Hulst, Kyle Reedy and Christopher Dasher all fired shots Sunday night. All had at least 2.5 years with the department and three of them were part of the Sheriff's Office's Crisis Intervention Team, having 40 hours of training identifying people suffering from mental illness, individuals in crisis and in de-escalation techniques.
Gainesville police said Cpl. Robert Kennedy and officers Brendon McCarthy, Matthew Quinn and Casey Kumar also fired on Dentmond. These officers had between 2 and 13.5 years with the department and one was Crisis Intervention Team certified.
All are on administrative leave or desk duty while the shooting is investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Investigators said the incident began when Dentmond told called dispatchers to say he wanted to shoot himself, then hung up.
Patrol units arrived at the apartments and confirmed Dentmond appeared to have an AR-15-style assault rifle and they called for backup from the Sheriff's Office and Gainesville police.
Deputies and officers talked to Dentmond, who at one point dropped his weapon. But officials said he would not move away from it. After several minutes, Dentmond picked up the weapon, then began walking toward an occupied apartment building, investigators said.
The police report said deputies and officers from both agencies began to give a series of loud verbal commands telling Dentmond to drop the weapon. Detectives said Dentmond did not respond to the directions and continued to walk toward the building.
On the witness' video, police can be heard yelling, “Drop it now, or you will be shot! Drop it now! One more step, (and) we're going to shoot you. Drop it now! You cannot get to a building where you're going to hurt someone.”
That's when deputies and officers opened fire, wounding Dentmond, who fell to the ground. He later died at the hospital.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement continues investigating to determine if lethal force was justified.
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