Family of police shooting victim speak out

The daughters of Darnell Thomas Wicker, a Louisville man shot and killed by Metro Police this week, said Tuesday evening their father wasn’t perfect but that he was hard-working U.S. military veteran who was robbed of his due process.

In a one-page statement, Wicker’s two children, Danielle, 35, and Dominique, 30, said their father worked as a handyman to take care of himself and loved ones. He served in the Army and was stationed at Ft. Knox in the mid-1980s including stays in Germany and Hawaii, Danielle said in a brief phone interview Tuesday.

“While these incidents quickly become part of a national conversation on race, policing and policy, we ask that everyone remember we are dealing with a real person, with real loved ones,” they said. “It is not our desire, nor is it fruitful, for our family to become a part of an ongoing media frenzy that pits segments of our society against one another.”

Wicker, 57, was fatally shot by Metro Police officers Taylor Banks and Beau Gadegaard while they were responding to a domestic violence call at the Broadleaf Arms Apartments in southwest Louisville early Monday morning. He was armed with a knife and what appeared to be a saw, according to police.

Banks and Gadegaard, who have been with the department since June 2015 and June 2014, respectively, fired their weapons, while a third officer, Brian Smith, a 9-year veteran, did not fire his weapon. Banks and Gadegaard were placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

Wicker’s daughters commended Metro Chief of Police Steve Conrad for releasing the body cam footage so quickly. “We believe Chief Conrad’s swift transparency was an act of good leadership that should not be overlooked,” Danielle and Dominique said.

Wicker’s younger brother Aundrea Thomas said the two were close growing up. While in school they played in the band at Bates Memorial Baptist Church when they were in high school. Wicker played the trumpet while he played the drums.

“He would never miss church,” Thomas said.

While Thomas was a homebody, his older sibling enjoyed being outdoors and worked as a handyman. “He was always good with his hands,” he said. “You couldn’t keep him in the house. I’m the opposite. I’m a chef.”

Thomas, 56, said the two had lost touch in recent years and that he found out his brother had died when a cousin knocked on his door to tell him police had shot him. He said he isn’t taking side but that he isn’t mad at police officers or Wicker’s girlfriend, Anita Jones, whose daughter called police to the apartment Monday morning.

“My brother’s old enough to know – after the military, after what’s been on TV – not to go at officers with anything in (your) hands. Not even a pencil,” Thomas said.

But Wicker’s daughters said they have many lingering questions about the shooting and the circumstances surrounding their father’s death. Among them is why it took so many gunshots to neutralize “one old man”; did officers consider less deadly alternatives; why it take so long to summon emergency aid; and what an officer meant when he said, “he started kinda swinging around a bit, kinda came at us, so we shot.”

A review of Jefferson County court records show no emergency protective orders were filed against Wicker. However, he was convicted for cocaine possession and assaulting either a police or a probation officer in 2001 and 2003, respectively.

Mayor Greg Fischer called for calm Monday, urging the community to wait until a full police investigation is complete before drawing any conclusions. Wicker’s daughters said Tuesday most Louisville police officers “have good intentions” but that their father was “taken from us in the most tragic way, and he will never get his day in court.”

“While Mayor Fischer has asked us to trust the process … we ask that we don’t allow our appreciation of the good officers to exempt those involved in this incident from the consequences of their actions,” the Wicker family said.

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