OKLAHOMA CITY — Monday, protesters called for Oklahoma County DA David Prater to reopen the case of Isaiah Lewis, a black 17-year-old who was shot and killed by an Edmond police officer in April 2019.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater ruled the shooting justified and did not bring charges against the officer who fired the fatal shots.
Protesters staged a peaceful but loud demonstration along Kerr McGee Avenue outside the Oklahoma County Annex, a part of the County Courthouse complex downtown where the DA has his offices.
As that was going on, seven protesters wearing business attire slipped into the Annex during the demonstration, blending into the usual foot traffic into the courthouse and occupied the waiting area of Prater’s office suite.
They sat down and told the DA’s staff that they would not leave until they spoke to Prater who never responded.
After having been given several opportunities to leave by Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Deputies, the protesters peacefully submitted to arrest rather than leave without talking to Prater.
To learn more, see our earlier coverage: Protesters focus criticism on DA David Prater at OKC rally
Edmond, a large suburb north of Oklahoma City, was the site of the 2019 confrontation between the naked, erratic teen who had surprised all who knew him earlier that day with uncharacteristic behavior.
After being pursued naked on foot by police for over an hour he broke into the home of someone he didn’t know.
Two officers went inside the home to arrest him. But once there, one officer shot and killed Lewis. Lewis was unarmed by all accounts of the incident. But officers said he became so violent they felt they had to shoot in their own defense.
One local TV station reporter said on air at the time that the officer was “forced to shoot” which was one talking point of the Edmond Police Department as spokespersons began to give statements to the media after the incident.
The police response that cost Lewis his life, the DA’s decision, and the appearance of manipulation of broadcast media by the Edmond Police has festered among some in Edmond and Oklahoma City since that time.
Protests were organized at the time and most recently in June.
The protest was called “Justice for Isaiah Lewis” and was organized by the Collegiate Freedom and Justice Coalition.
Protesters gathered in Kerr Park east of the Oklahoma County Courthouse complex, gave speeches and then marched around the complex once chanting for justice for Isaiah Lewis.
As they gathered, speeches decried the killing of Lewis who had not even turned 18.
Adriana Laws spoke about the purpose of the event.
She said that David Prater was “ruining the lives of innocent young people by labeling them ‘terrorists’ when they were “protesting the racial injustice perpetrated by our criminal justice system.”
“This young man [Lewis] lost his life, naked and afraid, and the officers responsible for his death still have not been held accountable,” said Laws.
One of Lewis’s uncles, Paul Tramble, spoke to the group about the many inconsistencies of the lethal response to Lewis.
“My nephew was 17 years old. And the first thing they told everybody — they told the news media — is that my [nephew] was a man,” said Tramble. “He was a naked man running through Edmond. And, that was to scare all of you into thinking that he was some sort of violent individual.”
He recounted three other incidents when white suspects had been successfully de-escalated by the Edmond Police after having behaved in obviously violent ways.
One of Lewis’s aunts, Alisha Tramble Jackson, read a statement from Lewis’s mother to the group.
“We are both humbled and honored To know that our beloved Isaiah has not been forgotten, and our fight, the fight for justice continues with you,” Lewis’s mother said in the text message.