This post was received via submission (included in its entirety below the video) from Terry A. Colgrove, who is the mother of Kenneth J. Stafford, a soldier from the Reno area that was killed by the police in Sparks, NV (a suburb of Reno), while suffering a PTSD-related episode on July 11th, 2013. His wife had called 911 to report that he was suicidal and, as has increasingly become the case when people call the police for help with medical or mental health issues, police responded by killing him.
Note: Currently, there is a FaceBook page, entitled “Justice for Kenneth Jewel Stafford,” where you can connect with his family and find out more about the case. In addition, there is a GoFundMe account that has been set up to collect donations for his family.
With the never-ending middle east wars and the amount of soldiers returning from them with mental health issues, such as PTSD, cases of veterans being killed by police have been on the rise and increasingly in the spotlight. Here in Las Vegas, inadequate care by the VA and the inability of the police to deal with PTSD sufferers was one of the main factors that led to the murder of Stanley Gibson, a veteran from the first Persian Gulf War, by Jesus Arevalo, who was an officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department until they “fired” him one week before announcing that he would be collecting $30,000/yr. for the rest of his life, because murdering Stanley had caused him to be stressed out.
While researching the submission, I found an article from shortly after Kenneth Stafford was shot. The video from that article is embedded below. The article is a little vague on details, but includes this statement from the police:
“According to Washoe County Officials, while officers were attempting to negotiate with Stafford, officers opened fire. Authorities have not said what prompted police to shoot him, that’s still under investigation.”
To say the least, that leaves a lot of questions about why “officers opened fire,” especially when the police have a tendency to claim the people they shot were making some sort of threatening gesture or movement immediately after they kill someone. Other questions brought up in the video include why Stafford’s wife (who states that she begged them not to hurt him during the 911 call), mother, and a very close family friend were prevented from talking to him.
Another article, from June of 2014, references the final report from the DA (which they “forgot” to notify the family of) and provides an explanation that is a little (but not much) less questionable. In the report, the DA declared Kenneth Stafford’s shooting justified, in part based on the commonly used “Argument from Authority” (I.E. you’re not a cop, so you don’t know) and partly because all five cops shot at Kenneth:
According to reports, Kenneth Stafford, an active military member on leave, left the home he was visiting in Sparks with a shotgun. 11 minutes after police made contact with the 27 year old Army soldier, officers say negotiations weren’t successful.
In the final report Washoe County District Attorney, Richard Gammick determined the shooting to be justified under all applicable laws.
Stafford’s wife, Aimee doesn’t accept that decision, “I don’t see anything about that situation that was justifiable, um he was shot 15, 14 or 15 times. There’s no need for that ad the places he was shot, there’s no need for that.”
The autopsy report reveals 14 bullets hit Stafford, in his forehead, neck, chest, abdomen, ankle, knee and thigh.
Gammick says, “The officers have to make a call. Unless you’ve warn the badge, unless you’ve been out there and confronted people with weapons, you don’t understand that those decisions are made in split seconds, it’s not something you can 20/20 hindsight and spend the next four months analyzing.”
Prior to officers opening fire, reports indicate that police requested a less lethal device, “Officers requested a 40mm launcher, which would have had a mid-range potential solution,” says Sparks Police Chief Brian Allen.
That device was never used and officers say Stafford escalated his behavior “to the point of quickly turning towards the officers in the backyard in a manner such as to point the shotgun at them.”
Sparks Police Chief Brian Allen says the audio and video captured that day illustrates that all five shooting officers reacted simultaneously firing 22 shots, 14 of them hitting Stafford.
“The fact that all the officers on scene perceived the same thing at the same moment really they all took independent and justifiable actions against Mr. Stafford. The fact that there are 22 rounds, if you take the number of officers involved it’s a relatively low number of rounds per officer,” says Sparks Police Chief Brian Allen.
Another thing revealed within that article is that the cops who shot Kenneth Stafford that day were given awards for doing so, something that had been a fairly trendy practice with cases of questionable shootings for a while. That has kinda tailed off lately though, after it became a point of criticism, for what should be obvious reasons.
Note: This is the statement received from Kenneth Stafford’s mother with the only editing being some obvious spelling and punctuation mistakes and the insertion of paragraph breaks where appropriate. Any legal or factual claims made within the block quotes are solely attributable to Ms. Calgrove and have not been verified by anyone involved with NVCopBlock.org or CopBlock.org.
My son, SPC Kenneth J. Stafford, was being treated for PTSD at his duty station Joint Base Lewis McChord in Fort Lewis, Washington. He came home with his family on leave around the 4th of July, which was the 1 year anniversary of his brother in law’s murder that the police still haven’t solved. They are trying to say it was gang related, because of the area he lived in and the people he hung around.
My son and his family were pulled over a couple of times in the first week they where home and harassed by the Reno police, because they were in the area and the cops knew who they were. Then with the Travon Martin case and the fireworks my son kept getting angrier and angrier. I have never seen him so angry in his life. I didn’t know what PTSD was until he came home and I looked it up. Only because I asked his wife what was going on and she told me about it, but she said she didn’t know what it was either. Here she is living with him and seeing the changes in him and she didn’t know what it was.
He was in contact with his doctor for the first week he was here and things weren’t as bad as the last few days of his life. Then, his phone broke and he couldn’t call his doctor anymore. Prior to that, he was calling him four or five times a day. I told his wife she needed to call his Sergeant or doctor and let them know how bad he was getting and needed help, but she said she didn’t have the numbers. I told her to get on line and look them up on their phone bill. Then she said she didn’t want him mad at her. I told her do you want him mad at you or dead. She never called them.
On the morning that he was killed July 11, 2013 he had been up for about 72 hours and was getting paranoid. He asked me for a gun. I told him I didn’t own one and asked him why he needed one. He said he wanted it for protection. I asked him protection from what and he just said, “do you have one or not?” I called the VA hospital to try to get help they told me because he wasn’t in their system we needed to bring him in or call the police and let them know what was going on and then they could bring him in. The VA convinced me the cops were trained and wouldn’t hurt him.
I called his wife and told her what they said she said he was calm and eating lunch and watching a movie with his girls. However, 15 minutes later she called me and said he had a gun and that she had called 911. He didn’t threaten her with it was just showing it to her and she freaked out screaming and then he got mad and started walking down the street. The cops found him 3 blocks away in a backyard by himself.
I drove down to where they were and asked the cops to let me talk to him, but they wouldn’t let me. Instead, they lied to me and said there was a military negotiator with him. They asked me his name and race. I said, “he is mixed” and Deena a friend of Kenny’s wife, Aimee, yelled “he’s black, they consider him black.” I didn’t understand why they would ask his race. A few minutes, later a cop ran up to me saying Kenny wanted a cigarette. Before the cop got halfway back with the cigarette, about 10 cops opened fired and shot and killed him.
The Washoe County Sheriff Office is the department handling the investigation. It has currently been over 10 months and we still haven’t got any answers. I don’t know if we ever will, but his wife is still calling three times a week. We are not going away. The army did a investigation, but they haven’t told us anything either. The cops keep telling us its an open investigation,but I don’t think they will ever close it because they knew they where in the wrong killing my son. I feel cops shouldn’t be investigating cops. We need that changed. We need a civilian investigation board. The VA needs to be able to help whether or not they are in their system. Wen people call for help they need help right away.
All we want is answers to why the cops feel they needed to kill him why then couldn’t of disarmed him tasered him or something else. The cops need to be retrained and held accountable for their actions. Something needs be be done and they need to be stopped they aren’t any better than a criminal.
Kelly is a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, who’s been very active in local grassroots activism, as well as on a national level during his extensive travels. He’s also the founder/main contributor of Nevada Cop Block, served as editor/contributor at CopBlock.org and designed the Official Cop Block Press Passes.
Connect with Kelly at these social networks; Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.