Spokesman for Tyrell Rivers family asks WPD to create citizens review board

Published: Jun. 20, 2016 at 10:19 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2016 at 12:06 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A family spokesman for Tyrell Rivers is calling for Wilmington Police to create a citizens review board. Rivers claimed he was choked by Wilmington Police Cpl. James "Coley" Johnson during an arrest in 2014. Earlier this month, a judge found Johnson not guilty of assaulting Rivers.

A video of the incident was recorded inside Johnson's police cruiser. The video shows Johnson putting his hands around Rivers' neck twice and Johnson asks Rivers if he wants to die. District Attorney Ben David saw the footage and contacted the SBI to investigate. In his trial, Johnson said he was using a pressure point control technique to stop Rivers from kicking the vehicle door.

Vance Williams, a spokesman for Rivers family, said videos like this should be reviewed by a community board. Sonya Patrick of the Black Leadership Caucus pushed to a Wilmington Police citizens review board last year, but with no luck.

Patrick said the board would consist of five to 10 individuals from the community who would look over cases involving deadly shootings or use of force incidents.

"Chief Ralph Evangelous should form a real, a real community review team with subpoena rights," Williams said. "Many civil rights activists and leaders in this town has posed that and it's very intelligent to do it because it puts the citizens and law enforcement in a good position as far as safety."

Over the past few years, civil rights groups have pressed WPD to create a citizens review board, but with no luck.

Sonya Patrick, with the NC Black Leadership Caucus, says five law enforcement agencies in the state currently have a citizens review board.

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