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Family, friends of man shot in LR criticize police

Family, friends of man shot in LR criticize police GRANT LANCASTER ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

Family and friends of Khalila Martindale Jr. release balloons in his honor on Wednesday on Little Rock’s Oak Street, where Martindale was fatally shot on Tuesday. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

Family and friends of a Little Rock man shot dead on Oak Street on Tuesday said at a Wednesday memorial service that police officers were slow to arrive and rude, while a police spokesman said he had no reason to believe that the department’s officers were not prompt and respectful.

A couple dozen people filled the intersection of 21st and South Oak streets on Wednesday evening, releasing a barrage of red balloons into the sky in the memory of Khalila Martindale Jr., 25, known to many as K.J. Officers responding to 2106 S. Oak St. around 11 a.m. Tuesday found Martindale near the residence, suffering from gunshot wounds that proved fatal, a police incident report stated. He died on the scene.

Some at the vigil near the scene of the killing said that those calling 911 after the shooting were unable to get through to dispatchers.

A next-door neighbor who tried to call 911 was unable to get through, said Benny Johnson, a reverend and activist who started Arkansas Stop the Violence and organized the vigil with Martindale’s family and friends.

The neighbor, who declined to speak with members of the media Wednesday night, told Johnson that he eventually drove to the Little Rock police 12th Street Substation, about a mile away, to get help.

When police arrived, Martindale’s aunt, Rokenya Boykins, said they were rude and disrespectful to family and neighbors on the scene, even pushing people.

Police detectives had yet to speak with Martindale’s mother about the incident, Boykins said, and they asked the crowd at the scene to identify Martindale. Martin-dale’s mother was present at the vigil, but did not want to speak other than thanking people for coming.

Police spokesman Mark Edwards said that it was likely that multiple people were calling 911 at once after the shooting, and so the phones at the dispatch center may have been busy. The department’s records show a shooting call for service, he said, meaning someone got through to emergency communications.

A message requesting comment left with the director of the city’s emergency communications center, Juana Green, on Wednesday afternoon was not returned by that evening.

Edwards said he had not heard any reports of officers at the scene having an attitude or acting disrespectful. He said it’s possible that officers trying to do their jobs in what was an emotional time for family and friends might have led to that impression.

“Our officers have to take the emotion out of it,” Edwards said.

In this instance, officers protected the integrity of the crime scene, contributing to the arrest of three suspects in the killing within 12 hours, Edwards said.

Police arrested Eric Davis, 24, and Evelyn Alexander, 21, on the same day of the killing and Marquis Smith, 23, on Wednesday, jail records show. All three face capital murder charges and were being held without bond.

Johnson plans to meet with Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Will Jones and ask that the three be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, he said Wednesday.

Martindale’s family don’t know any of the three suspects, Boykins said, but she said those responsible for the killing did an immeasurable amount of harm to the family over what she said seemed to have been a robbery.

Johnson views the actions taken by the neighbor as evidence that the city’s 911 system remains plagued with problems that prevent people from getting through when they need help.

“We got a broken 911 system, and it definitely needs to be fixed,” Johnson said.

One man who joined the vigil on Wednesday, Earl Williams, told the crowd that he’s long carried the grief of children lost to gun violence, and that he’s gotten unsatisfactory answers from city officials for years. Three of his sons have died by homicide, he said.

“When those lights go off, and there’s no cameras in their face, you’re just a statistic, and I’m tired of it,” Williams said, speaking of city officials.

Johnson said he wanted to meet with Chief Heath Helton and speak about the behavior of the department’s officers as reported by Martindale’s family.

“We’re not asking them to do better, we’re commanding them to do better,” Johnson said.

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