Dwana Peoples has looked at the videos of two shootings by Wichita Police Officers numerous times. What she just can’t seem to justify is how differently the two victims were treated.
The first video is of the March 31 shooting of Jennifer Miller, a 35-year-old White female who drew a loaded pistol on two WPD officers and was shot one time.
The second video is of the March 18 shooting of 34-year-old George Phillips. In Phillip’s case three officers unloaded 44 shots, hitting him 26 times, in the parking lot of a Southeast Wichita Braums restaurant. Phillips is an African-American male.
Peoples, is a member of the prison ministry at Saint Mark United Methodist Church and the members feel the disparate treatment between the two cases is not justified and should not go unnoticed.
Miller was approached by officers at the Red Roof Inn and Sky Palace hotel near Kellogg and Rock Road, after the car she was driving was identified as stolen. Police asked to see Miller’s identification, she replied “sure” and reached into her handbag which was at her feet. She pulled out a gun and pointed at both officers on the scene. One — not both — of the officers shot her one-time in the neck.
Phillips was in the passenger’s seat of his ex’s car in the parking lot of Braums located on Rock Road near Harry. Four police officers arrived responding to a call about a domestic violence occurrence. Approaching from the rear, they quickly pull his ex out of the car and command that he get out while two officers attempt to pull him out the passenger’s side door. One of the officers on the driver’s side of the car aims a taser at Phillips, but never appears to shoot, when someone sees a gun. There are a couple of quick demands to drop the gun and then the firing begins. Forty plus bullets are fired by three of the officers on the scene, twenty-six of them strike Phillips.
Miller — a loaded handgun, aimed at both officers standing just feet away from her, shot one time.
Phillips — a BB gun, not aimed at anyone, inside a car, 44 shots fired by three officers.
“I understand they didn’t know it was a BB gun,” said Peoples, “but he was inside a car, he wasn’t even running. They were there in close range. Their intent was to kill this man. They can’t tell me that it wasn’t.”
With just one shot fired at Miller, the group said the intent seems significantly different.
They question how one case could be deescalated so quickly while the other escalated into a shooting frenzy.
Peoples survived the shooting but is in the infirmary at El Dorado Prison. He’s been assigned a public defender to represent him for charges stemming from the March 18 incident. However, the prison ministry members are hoping to find an attorney who will represent Phillips in a civil lawsuit charging WPD with excessive use of force.
“He didn’t need to be shot that many times,” repeated Peoples.
The ministry members are finding out just how hard it is to get someone to represent you against the police, particularly in Wichita and in Kansas.