TALLADEGA -- A protest spearheaded by family members of the young man killed in an officer-involved shooting in the Knoxville Community in Talladega grew to include roughly 100 people Wednesday afternoon, while a handful of details from the investigation were made public.
Javaon Ousley, 19, was fatally shot by an off-duty Lincoln police officer Tuesday afternoon between the East Side Head Start building and Edythe Sims Park, by all accounts. The officer sustained a gunshot wound to his arm, according to information provided by Lincoln police Tuesday evening.
The investigation is being led by Talladega County District Attorney Steve Giddens. He is being assisted by the Talladega County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force and Talladega police, he said.
Once that investigation is complete, Giddens said Wednesday, the findings will be presented to a Talladega County Grand Jury, which will determine whether the off-duty officer is charged with a crime.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Lincoln police had issued two public statements regarding the incident.
The first confirmed that the officer does work for the Lincoln Police Department and states that at the time of the incident, he was off-duty and was in Knoxville on personal business. The release also confirmed that the officer was shot in the arm and was treated and released at a local hospital. He is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
A second release from Lincoln police Wednesday afternoon specified that the personal business involved a Facebook Marketplace transaction and said that the off-duty officer was transported to the hospital by a Talladega police officer who responded to the call. “A female witness was on scene at the time of occurrence,” according to the second release.
The Wednesday release goes on to say, “In response to multiple false rumors and unacceptable death threats directed toward our officers and their families, we would like the following to be known. No female officer was involved. No female informant was involved. No undercover officer was involved. We hope that this will help inform the public of the facts that we are able to provide at this time. We look forward to a full and transparent investigation into the facts of this critical incident.”
Further inquiries are directed to Giddens.
Ousley graduated from Winterboro High School last year, and, according to family members, was about to start his second year of college. After the shooting, his body was taken to the state forensics lab for a detailed autopsy. Funeral arrangements will be announced by Terry’s Metropolitan Mortuary in the future.
Some of Ousley’s relatives announced a protest starting in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly on Battle Street on Wednesday evening. Although only a few people turned up initially, the crowd grew over the next half hour or so and involved about 100 people by the time they began marching toward City Hall and around the Davey Allison Memorial Park bearing placards paying tribute to Ousley and chanting “No Justice, No Peace.”
Charlene Woodgett, a family friend, began the event by reading from 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
“You’re not doing anything wrong,” she said. “What is wrong here is that a young man’s life was taken for no reason. The Lord will reveal the truth in time.”
She prayed for comfort for the family and asked that every heart be touched with a spirit of peaceful protest and love for one another.
One of Ousley’s aunts, Donetta Twymon-Cowlin, said, “I don’t care what my nephew’s done, it didn’t call for a head shot. They could have shot him in the leg or something, it didn’t have to end this way. His parents would have taken care of him. That was not called for.”
Ousley’s cousin, LaTorrie Tanner, called out the local clergy for not attending the protest.
“He was an only child,” she said of the deceased. “I am appalled that there is no clergy here today. You talk about this being our city, but what have you done other than open your mouth in the pulpit.
“I challenged all of you to cancel Bible study today and come stand with us. We don’t give a damn about how much you know until you show us how much you care.
“You talk about the white man suppressing us, but we are suppressing ourselves, too. The war is here in the streets. I am sick and tired of ‘rest in peace’ and ‘rest easy…’ We need unity.”
Mary Swain, also one of Ousley’s aunts, also emphasized the need for the community to come together as one.
“This was an evil act,” she said. “I don’t want my son to have to walk the streets defending himself.”
Shantrel Swain added, “The community failed. There was a lot more that could have been done. And it’s hard for me to speak about, because I am guilty myself.”