It’s been well over four months and the family of Tyler Gebhard, a Black man shot and killed by an off-duty cop has still not received an investigation report.
In 1966, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes” what it would take for racial justice to be achieved in America, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
It wasn’t about uniting Blacks behind a civil rights movement. It wasn’t about converting racists. It was about awakening “White America,” particularly those folks inclined to be supportive of civil rights but not yet moved to get off the sideline.
“I think White America will determine how long it will be and which way we go in the future,” King said.
In the vernacular of today’s rekindled and renewed civil rights movement, consider Marlene Gebhard one “woke” white person.
Gebhard and her husband, Larry, are the grandparents of Tyler Gebhard, a 20-year-old man who was shot and killed by an off-duty St. Louis County police officer July 9 at a home in Lakeshire. Tyler Gebhard’s father is black. His mother, Angela Johnson, is white. She is the Gebhards’ daughter.
— ArchCityDefenders (@ArchCityDefense) November 17, 2016
The night of the former Affton football player’s death, county Police Chief Jon Belmar was calling it a righteous shooting, saying the off-duty police officer had no choice but to shoot.
The narrative was set. It was a case of Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter.
The story, according to police, was that Tyler Gebhard got in a heated Facebook debate with the police officer’s family over recent police shootings, came to the house, broke in and was shot when the officer feared for his family’s safety.
But it’s a narrative that doesn’t ring true to the Gebhards. Four months later, the family is still seeking answers.
Tyler was unarmed. He had no criminal record. He was shot at a home he had been to often by a member of a family that had invited him to the house to go to church.
The day before, they shared their story with me, explaining the runaround they’ve received from the department that supervises the officer who killed Tyler.
“He was an awesome kid,” Marlene says of her grandson. “His life ended abruptly … and we really want to know what happened that night.”
The police narrative says that Tyler showed up at the house of the officer’s parents, threw a planter through a window, entered the house, scared the family and was shot and killed by the officer.
But Marlene’s investigation finds many holes in that story.
(1/2) At appx 5:50p an off-duty St. Louis County police officer was involved in a shooting after a suspect broke into his home in Lakeshire.
— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) July 10, 2016
There were angry Facebook messages, she says. It was the week that both Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, two African-American men, were shot by police, one in Minnesota, the other in Louisiana. It was the week five Dallas police officers were killed in a brutal ambush. Tyler, who was bipolar, appeared to be struggling emotionally that week, Marlene says. But none of the Facebook messages, she says, were directed at the family of the police officer.
In fact, she says, it was the police officer’s mother-in-law who invited Tyler to the house, so they could go to church together, which they often did, Marlene said.
When the family couldn’t get any answers from police, they started filing public records requests.
Four months later, the family says, they still haven’t received an autopsy report or investigation report, according to Huffington Post.
Gebhard’s family and the nonprofit law group Arch City Defenders held a press conference Thursday afternoon asking for answers from law enforcement and the St. Louis County medical examiner’s office about what happened to Gebhard the day he died.
At 5:58 p.m. on July 9, Tyler Gebhard was pronounced dead at a local hospital, according to an EMS report obtained by Arch City. By 6 p.m., St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar appeared on a local news station to say a shooting had occurred after a suspect broke into a police officer’s home.
The suspect was rushed to an area hospital where he was pronounced deceased. Chief Belmar will address the media shortly with more details.
— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) July 10, 2016
It was almost as if a full investigation had been wrapped up and a conclusion was reached in less than an hour,” Marlene Gebhard said Thursday.
Local media quickly published stories about the shooting, mostly recounting statements only from law enforcement.
Meanwhile, Gebhard’s mother, Angela Johnson, did not find out her son was dead until 9:30 p.m. on July 9
The family and attorneys have requested key documents pertaining to Gebhard’s death from the St. Louis County Police Department, St. Louis County medical examiner’s office, Lakeshire Police Department and the Affton Fire Protection District. So far, only the the ambulance report, fire district report and encounter report have been provided by St. Anthony’s Medical Center and Affton Fire Protection District.
In August, St. Louis County PD said they were done with the investigation. But when Arch City filed a records request, the department said Lakeshire PD was investigating. After another records request, Lakeshire PD said St. Louis County was handling the investigation. Arch City contacted the St. Louis County Counselor’s office on Oct. 27 for clarification and has not received a response.
A spokesman from St. Louis County PD told The Huffington Post the investigation was concluded and had been forwarded to the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney’s office for their review, and that the autopsy was concluded the day following the incident.
The St. Louis County prosecutor attorney’s office says the case has been presented to its office and is being reviewed.
The Boyds say they do not want to file a lawsuit yet, but just want answers.
Lasley is currently an active duty police officer. He returned back to work eight days after killing Tyler Gebhard.
This is another sad and disheartening tragedy to have befallen a Black family. And as usual, cops are hiding investigation reports from the family. If there isn’t anything fishy about the incident, why then is it taking the authorities so long to furnish the family with the reports needed? Police brutality against black people is becoming alarming and we need to stand together against this menace.