OTTAWA, Kan. — A woman’s brother was shot and killed by police and now she wants to know why.
Investigators say they were called out to Orscheln’s Farm and Home store on Saturday shortly before 8 p.m., initially on reports of a man waving a gun.
When they got on scene, they spotted 18-year-old Joseph Jennings in the parking lot.
“Why did you have to kill him?” Hope Jennings, Joseph’s sister, asked.
Jennings wants police to answer that question. She has little explanation as to why police shot and killed her 18-year-old brother, Joseph, in a parking lot.
“He didn’t even have a chance,” she said.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office says it all began when they responded to initial reports of a man waving a gun in Orscheln’s parking lot. They said Joseph posed a threat to the community and at some point police shot and killed him. But his family members, who witnessed it, say there’s more to that story.
“I was screaming at the top of my lungs, don’t shoot him, don’t shoot him,” Brandy Smith, Joseph’s aunt, said.
Smith says she was standing in the parking lot when a standoff between Joseph and police began.
“He had his arms out and then he was kind of reaching, you know, doing this hand gestures and kind of puffing up at him, antagonizing them,” recalled Smith. “I was telling him, ‘Joseph stop, it’s not worth it. Your family loves you. Just get down. Let us help you. Get down.’”
Smith says she never saw him holding a gun and that the only person he wanted to hurt was himself. She says she screamed that to police before they fired the fatal shots.
“He’s wanting you to shoot him. Don’t do it. He needs mental help. Don’t do it,” she said.
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Smith says police then fired several shots killing him.
“He just didn’t deserve this,” Jennings said.
Jennings says her brother suffered from severe depression for a lot of his life. She says she knows he wasn’t perfect but doesn’t believe what happened Saturday night warranted his murder.
“Cops shooting innocent people all the time, that’s been happening a lot lately. I don’t understand the system,” she said.
The Ottawa Police Department, the Franklin Sheriff’s Department and the KBI are all investigating this incident.
They made it very clear at a press conference that they are waiting until they’re a bit further into the investigation to release specific details as to exactly what happened.