Faith in Indiana calls on Mayor Mueller to speak with them about Dante Kittrell killing
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) -Faith and community leaders in South Bend are calling on Mayor James Mueller to meet with them, now two weeks after South Bend Police shot and killed 51-year-old Dante Kittrell.
Police opened fire on Kittrell back on July 29th, after attempting to deescalate the situation for nearly an hour as Kittrell threatened to take his own life while armed with a gun.
While Mayor Mueller says it’s not appropriate to talk about the police response that ended in Kittrell’s death until all the facts of the investigation come out, Faith Indiana leaders say this conversation cannot wait.
The silence isn’t giving them optimism either in Mueller’s ability to keep Black people safe in South Bend.
“We do not have confidence that the South Bend Police can keep Black people safe during a mental health crisis,” said Abundant Faith and Family Ministries Pastor J.B. Williams.
Pastor Williams saw the situation unfold firsthand between police and Dante Kittrell the day he threatened to end his own life. The shot that ended up killing him didn’t come from the gun he wielded but from the gun of an officer.
Mayor Mueller says he’s waiting to comment until all the facts come back from the shooting investigation, but Williams says he personally wouldn’t need to review the tape to tell you the South Bend Police are not equipped to deal with these situations safely.
“I observed, as opposed to calling in a mental [health] group, they call on the SWAT team. That’s what they’re trained to do. They said, ‘we’re negotiating Pastor Williams’. Yes, you’re negotiating but you have the wrong negotiating tools,” Williams said.
Mayor Mueller says it’s not only too early for him to jump to any conclusions about what happened, but it’s too early for anyone.
“I’m a little disappointed that there has been a rush to judgment before the investigation has concluded and all of the facts are out. So, I have mentioned to the folks in Faith Indiana that we’ll be happy to meet when the time is right. And the time will be right when the investigation concludes,” Mayor Mueller said.
Another pastor at the news conference said if they can’t get their message across to the mayor now, they’ll make sure to speak up at the ballot box in the upcoming mayoral race.
“And simply said, he doesn’t have to meet with us, but there is an election in eight months,” said St. Paul Bethel Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Gilbert Washington.
The St. Joseph County Prosecutors’ office released new information Thursday saying they’re waiting on ballistics tests to come back sometime next week.
They say they’ll share more details with the public after going through the full report with Kittrell’s family and the South Bend Police.
Mayor Mueller scheduled a Community Action Group meeting for Sept. 6 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Brown Community Learning Center, but Faith Indiana says they want to talk to the Mayor sooner and without outside groups.
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