Kofi Adu-Brempong, a 35-year-old Ghanaian post-graduate student pursuing a Ph.D degree in Urban Geography, and working as a teaching assistant at the University of Florida, USA, who could barely walk without the aid of a walking cane, was shot with a bean bag gun three times, and shot in the face at close range with an M-4 Bushmaster, a military assault rifle, by the University Police Department (UPD) in his own apartment at Cory Village, on the campus of the University of Florida (U-F) for "resisting arrest" in an ordinary noise ordinance violation. All these occurred within 40 seconds of entry into the premises of a mentally and physically disabled, 5 foot 4 inch person by five able-bodied and supposedly "well-trained" police officers.
Adu-Brempong's research areas include urban geography, urban and regional analysis and planning and spatial analysis and modeling with a research topic in urban spatial change in Ghana and implications for environmental sustainability, according to UF's Web site. On the professional network LinkedIn, Adu-Brempong lists his education at UF from 2005 through 2009. Another site where students rate professors is complimentary of Adu-Brempong. One entry from November 2009 said he likes to be called "The True Son of Africa" and is "an amazing guy." "He's a really great guy to just talk to after class and he really enjoys teaching," the entry stated.
Police Chief Linda Stump said officers had also been in contact with Adu-Brempong on Monday, but details on that contact were not immediately available. Stump said the incident began at 8:17 p.m. and marked the first time in at least a quarter century that a campus office had fired on someone on campus. "I do know that our officers had an on-again, off-again dialogue with him until about 10 p.m.," Stump said. "When we lost contact with him, our officers made the decision to enter his apartment." Once inside, officers said they found Adu-Brempong wielding a pipe and a large knife.
Adu-Brempong had difficulty walking and used a cane, according to his neighbors and students. One neighbor said Adu-Brempong parked his car in the grass next to his apartment because he had problems carrying groceries from the nearby parking lot. One student who took his geography class last semester, Daniel Lynch, said Adu-Brempong suffered from ailments related to a childhood bout of polio. He said Adu-Brempong was hunched over when he walked and relied on the cane to get around. "He called himself the three-legged son of Africa," Lynch said.
The police had been informed of Kofi's mental problems the previous day, March 1st, 2010. According to a police report issued after the shooting, Geography Professor Peter Waylen contacted police to say that Adu-Brempong had sent an e-mail with troubling statements, which were redacted in the police report. Waylen told police Adu-Brempong had been having delusional thoughts for at least a year and that he had previously received help from a UF counselor because he was upset over a belief that the U.S. government was not going to renew his student visa, the report stated. Waylen and an officer spoke with Adu-Brempong at his apartment Monday. University of Florida police released a report from a police visit on Monday to the student and graduate assistant.
In a related article published on Monday, March 15, 2010, Nathan Crabbe of the Gainsville asks: "Was UF shooting avoidable?" and answers it in the subtitle: "Mental health experts: If police had used Baker Act, things may have ended better". Betty Strayer, who deals with Baker Act admissions as vice president for emergency services at Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, said she sees a difference in officers who receive the training. Those officers tend to show more knowledge about the Baker Act and mental illness, she said. She said law enforcement need to be aware that they can use the act without threat of lawsuit or repercussions. "If we decide after the evaluation that they don't meet the criteria, then we release them," she said.
They say a state law and law enforcement techniques meant to get treatment for the mentally ill might have prevented the situation from escalating.
UF officials and police were told Adu-Brempong had experienced delusions for at least a year. On the day before the shooting, his condition apparently worsened, and he accused students of being part of a plot to kill him.
But the police that visited him that day decided against using the state's Baker Act to involuntarily take him to a mental health examination.
"If the Baker Act would have been used on the first day, I think everything would have been averted," said UF professor Dr. Bruce Stevens, co-president of the Gainesville chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Two of the five officers who responded the next day to reports of screaming from Adu-Brempong's apartment were trained in Crisis Intervention Team techniques.
The training teaches officers methods aimed at getting treatment for the mentally ill and keeping them out of jail. But the situation ended with Adu-Brempong being shot and facing charges.
UF police have declined comment on the shooting, citing an ongoing investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, so it's unclear whether the Crisis Intervention Team techniques were used. Police reports suggest officers had problems getting Adu-Brempong to talk. University Police Capt. Jeff Holcomb said verbal skills only work when there is an ongoing dialogue.
"You have to communicate back and forth for these things to happen," he said.
As for the Baker Act, University Police Lt. Alton McDilda said the law can be used only if people are an immediate threat to themselves or others.
"Everybody's rights are safeguarded ... We just can't grab people up because they might be some sort of threat in the future," he said.
Yet McDilda's definition of the Baker Act's limits, shared by other law enforcement officials, including State Attorney Bill Cervone, conflicts with the wording of the law. The act also allows individuals to be taken for an evaluation if they're likely to suffer neglect that poses a threat of substantial harm to their well-being and can't be helped through other means.
Stevens said part of the problem is officers sometimes see the Baker Act as punishment rather than a way to get someone help.
"It's seen as something that you're doing to the person, rather than something you're doing for the person," he said.
Adu-Brempong, 35, is a doctoral student and teaching assistant in geography from Ghana. On March 1, he sent e-mail messages to his fellow graduate students in the geography department accusing them of plotting to kidnap him and return him to Africa for a ritual killing.
The department chair, Peter Waylen, went with a police officer that same day to Adu-Brempong's apartment at the university's Corry Village graduate and family housing complex. A counselor and another officer, this one trained in Crisis Intervention Team techniques, later came to the scene. Crisis Intervention Team training includes two hours on the Baker Act.
While it was determined after the 2 1/2-hour encounter that Adu-Brempong did not meet the act's criteria, Stevens said the e-mail messages alone appeared to be enough to bring him in for an evaluation.
The five-officer team that responded the next day was able to speak with Adu-Brempong only through a broken window, and he told the officers he didn't trust them, according to police reports.
A resident of the complex said Adu-Brempong could be heard asking for a lawyer. Police Lt. Stacy Ettel reported that it was difficult to maintain a conversation with him.
Ettel is a department instructor in "verbal judo" - which Holcomb described as using communication skills to manage and control situations.
Ettel and the other four officers all had received training in the Baker Act. Two of them had received Crisis Intervention Team training.
Officers ended up bursting into Adu-Brempong's apartment because they feared he had killed himself, according to police reports.
Stevens said the fact that officers came into the apartment armed with weapons such as a rifle conflicts with the methods of Crisis Intervention Team training, which teaches officers not to flash weapons.
"They're two completely different philosophical approaches," he said.
McDilda said officers must be armed in preparation for any contingency - such as the campus-shooter situations that have occurred at universities such as Virginia Tech.
"The officers have to be afforded the ability to defend the people in the community of the University of Florida campus and themselves," he said.
Police reported that Adu-Brempong tried to strike an officer with a metal rod, which friends and family have said they believe was a cane he used because a childhood case of polio made walking difficult.
Another officer ended up shooting Adu-Brempong in the face with a rifle.
Adu-Brempong's jaw was destroyed, and a bullet lodged near his spine. He's recovering at Shands at UF, facing charges of aggravated assault on an officer and resisting an officer with violence.
The national Crisis Intervention Team certification program was started by Memphis police after one of its officers shot and killed a man experiencing hallucinations that accompany schizophrenia. Following the 1998 incident, the National Alliance on Mental Illness created a course to train police to respond to people having a mental illness crisis.
Taralyn DeWese-Mitchell, who coordinates training in the region for the Florida Department of Children and Families, said the techniques can be used to de-escalate a crisis.
"We use it as a tool," she said. "Just like your pepper spray and Taser are tools, CIT training is a tool."
About 46 percent of UF's sworn officers have received the training, according to the department. The 40-hour course is offered three times a year, so DeWese-Mitchell said it takes time to train all of the officers in a department with limited staffing such as the university police.
Part of the training involves law enforcement testing techniques, such as speaking gently rather than shouting commands, as a way to defuse a situation. But DeWese-Mitchell conceded that the scenarios don't cover every contingency and that it's unpredictable to deal with a crisis involving a mental illness.
"We always say that officer safety is the first priority," she said.
The remainder of the training involves teaching officers about the signs and symptoms of mental illness. Officers visit mental health facilities and learn about community resources that allow them to bring the mentally ill for treatment rather than taking them to jail.
Photo courtesy of Brempong family
Kofi Adu-Brempong, on the far left, is shown with a brother, Dr. Kwame Obeng, on the far right, and two friends in this family photo.
"I asked Adu-Brempong if he had any concerns that I could help with. Adu-Brempong advised that he was fine and did not need anyone's help," Officer Gene Rogers wrote in the report. "I advised him that Waylen and I were concerned for his safety and were there to assist him any way we could." The report states Adu-Brempong refused help from a counselor and stated several times that he was fine and that the group was bothering him. On March 2, 2010 was apparently having a nervous breakdown (due to visa renewal worries) in his apartment at UF's Corry Village housing complex. His shouting and other erratic behavior brought members of the UF campus police to Corry Village, where they surrounded his apartment and evacuated his neighbors.
After about two hours of oral negotiations (in which UF's understaffed mental health counselors were not involved), during which they confirmed that Adu-Brempong was alone and threatening no one, the police kicked down his door. Five officers entered the apartment. In less than half a minute (21 seconds!), they shocked Adu-Brempong three times with a taser, shot him twice with a beanbag shotgun, and blasted him in the face with an M4 military assault rifle. An ambulance took him to UF-affiliated Shands Hospital, where he remains with a bullet lodged dangerously near his spinal cord and unable to speak due to mouth injuries.
Dispatcher calls show that officials requested an ambulance at Corry Village just before 10 p.m. and that the incident initially reported stated the patient had shot himself and had facial wounds, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office reported. The call then stated that a knife and a gun were involved. Another call came in two minutes after 10 p.m. and was listed as an assist another agency with university police requesting that Sheriff's Office forensics investigators respond to the scene. This call reported that the patent had a gunshot and stab wounds and that this was believed to be a suicide attempt, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Art Forgey. However, the call taker later amended the report saying that this was an officer-involved shooting.
Adu-Brempong has been charged with aggravated assault on an officer and resisting an officer with violence. For over three weeks, he was under continuous guard by two county deputies before his family posted a $10,000 bond to prevent him from being transferred to the overcrowded local jail. Reported medical costs already approach $300,000.
As UF Student Fernando Figueroa stated during a recent demonstration on Democracy Now!: “We’re demanding that all charges be dropped against Kofi, because they’re trying to do, you know, kind of something what’s called extortion. Like they’re saying, ‘Oh, we’ll drop the charges if you don’t file a lawsuit.’ And so, we’re demanding that all the charges be dropped and that more severe action be taken against the offending officer, Keith Smith.”
Media reports include: "The officer who shot Kofi Adu-Brempong has been identified as Keith Smith. He has previously been reprimanded for an incident in which he allegedly harassed and threw eggs at African Americans while off-duty." Three Gainesville police officers received written warnings for their actions in these incidents, according to the city police department. Smith, hired in November 2005, received a verbal warning for his involvement and was removed from his recently assigned position to the narcotics task force, university police reported at the time.
Meanwhile instead of compensating Kofi for his totally undeserved and avoidable injuries, they have proceeded to charge Kofi! Keith Smith had one month of leave of absence and is back to the police force since 2nd April! Adu-Brempong is facing charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill and five counts of resisting an officer with violence, according to Alachua County court records. Police, in their arrest report, alleged Adu-Brempong threatened officers, both verbally and by his actions. Officers who were involved were Keith Smith, William Sasser, James Mabry, Stacy Ettel, and William Ledger, the report stated.
According to Brandon Kutner, the President of PBA, says the police did nothing wrong even though they knew about Kofi's mental condition the previous night!
Jamel Lanee: "David, the Police Benevolent Association is representing the five officers who were involved in the shooting on March 2nd. The investigation was in the hands of the F-D-L-E but was completed on Friday and turned over to the State Attorney. PBA members say they believe the results in the investigation in a comment Adu-Brempong made to a local newspaper will show the officers acted accordingly and by the book!"
Brandon Kutner: "Reference was made to the metal rod being a cane he used, errh, to walk possibly, urh, because of his, errh, childhood disease with polio, errh, by his own admission and by his own statement given to the Sun, he was lucid that night, urrhm, he knowingly pulled off that, errh, rod off his computer desk and swung it on the officers." Click here to: Watch Video
As Fernando Figueroa, of Gainesville SDS noted: “We will not let up until we gain justice for Kofi. We are taking a stand against police brutality and racism on our campus and throughout the country... It is astounding to see so few reporters covering the point blank shooting of an African man in the face here. This is the same campus where you could not walk ten feet without bumping into a reporter or TV crew following a white student’s famous ‘Don’t tase me bro!’ incident.”
Please, join the Coalition Against Police Brutality, Justice for Kofi Adu-Brempong to demand:
UPD drops all charges against Kofi
- An Independent Grand Jury investigations into the shooting.
- Implementation of an independent review board for the UPD
- Indefinate unpaid suspension for the shooter, Keith Smith, pending investigation.
- Improvement of mental health and crisis services on campus to prevent future incidents.
- Elimination of UPD's Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT).
Updates on further organizing, Adu-Brempong's condition, and more are regularly posted at the "Justice for Kofi Adu-Brempong" Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&gid=336549896343 (Facebook membership not required to view).
For More Information:
Dave Schneider- (407)-267-1419;
Justin Wooten - (352)-213-6519
Please note: This is a compilation of comments and newspaper reports hurriedly assembled and edited by Nana Akyea Mensah, the Odikro. All sources are public. Most of the original words and in some cases whole paragraphs were retained and where possible sources acknowledged. This page is being constantly up-dated and rectified to reflect the facts on the ground as they emerge, and thanks to your comments.
For the avoidance of any doubts, It does not seek to, nor pretend to represent any of the individuals or groups mentioned herein. That we seek to promote them is strictly a matter of principled support for the work the are doing. It may be conceived as the first draft towards the official papers of the European Branch of the Justice For Kofi Movement. We intend to first reach out to Ghanaisn in Europe and the grow our movement from then on. This is therefore an effort at public education particularly aimed at the Ghanaian public to mobilize and give their maximum support to the internationalisation of the Justice for Kofi Movement. We appeal to all to contact the groups that are immediately concerned in the case. They are based in the United States and are currently on Facebook.
This effort represents an individual's attempt to tell the story from the sources as the news emerge. Efforts are already on the way to highlight these sources and shall be ready soon. It is an attempt to provide a quick understanding especially to those who have not yet heard of the case, and may not have the time to go through all the numerous websites to get as much information as quickly possible on a single page! It is also a call for solidarity! We can do a lot to support the efforts of students with heavy academic tasks to accomplish. It is a call for each one of us to get involved in creative and original ways to tell a crime the media is strangely silent about! We should let people know about this case!
We welcome comments, suggestions, corrections, you may please post your comments here: CommentsFurther reading, Sources and references:
- Letters for Kofi, Documentation, community building, justice, and history www.professorevans.com: http://bit.ly/bhZ48G
- Officers Cleared in Shooting - WCJB TV-20: http://bit.ly/bxEYwU
- UF responds to State Attorney’s decision to clear UPD officers: http://www.zikkir.com/index/279364
- Surprise, Surprise: UPD Ofc. who shot student in the face won't be prosecuted - GatorCountry.com Swamp Gas Forums: http://bit.ly/ci0QAJ
- University of Florida officers will not be prosecuted in shooting of Kofi Adu-Brempong | Gainesville.com: http://bit.ly/9cJPVq
- College students more likely to report campus threats if 'connected' to school—UF study | : http://news.education.ufl.edu/node/488
- The Independent Florida Alligator: News - Graduate student still in hospital: http://bit.ly/cG8SMZ
- RALLY AND SPEAKOUT FOR AN INDEPENDENT CIVILIAN POLICE REVIEW BOARD THURSDAY, MAY 20, 2010: http://bit.ly/bb1OBZ
- Facebook | Messages - Gainesville City meeting regarding a review board THURSDAY, MAY 20, 2010.: http://bit.ly/b8rJbt
- YouTube - Student shooting protesters march to State Attorney's Office: http://bit.ly/9BDsTS
- Facebook |Justice for Kofi Adu-Brempong Messages - Meeting on Monday, May 10th at 7:30 in Anderson: Organize 4 Summer! http://bit.ly/9uLx6w
- What's next in UF shooting case hinges on report | Gainesville.com: http://bit.ly/95Br4Q
- State Attorney Bill Cervone meets with protesters over shooting, needs at least 30 days | Gainesville.com: http://bit.ly/cg6syW
- State attorney meets with UF student protesters | Gainesville.com: http://bit.ly/90g6Pn
- Facebook | Meet Mr. Mann and demand Justice for Kofi!: http://bit.ly/aRWYTr
- Police standoff ends with dog bites, Tasering | Gainesville.com: http://bit.ly/bjXiE0
- Protest of UF police shooting incident of Kofi Adu-Brempong | Gainesville.com: http://bit.ly/bVfcAC via @addthis
- Battle to get justice for Kofi Adu-Brempong continues | Diaspora (USA) | ModernGhana.com News: http://bit.ly/bQAXEd via @addthis
- theodikro.blogspot.com: JUSTICE4KOFI NOW!!! NEWS UPDATES: http://bit.ly/d0bKyQ
- fightbacknews Video of Kofi shooting finally released http://goo.gl/fb/oF6GT
- Protest of UF police shooting incident of Kofi Adu-Brempong | Gainesville.com: http://bit.ly/bVfcAC
- Battle to get justice for Kofi Adu-Brempong continues | Diaspora (USA) | ModernGhana.com News: http://bit.ly/bQAXEd
- theodikro.blogspot.com: JUSTICE4KOFI NOW!!! NEWS UPDATES: http://bit.ly/d0bKyQ via @addthis
- fightbacknew V ideo of Kofi shooting finally released http://goo.gl/fb/oF6GT
- Video of UF police shooting incident posted on Youtube, Kofi Adu-Brempong can be heard | Gainesville.com: http://bit.ly/aXVq56
- Solidarity With Kofi Adu-Brempong/Latest development: PBA Supports Officers Involved In Adu-Brempong Shooting: http://bit.ly/9uiv8K
- Comment: One Response to “Groups demand justice for shot Ghanaian student in US”: http://bit.ly/a3ZG1R
- PBA Supports Officers Involved In Adu-Brempong Shooting - WCJB TV-20: http://bit.ly/bwAndA via @addthis
- We Shall Never Give Up On Kofi, So Better Give Him Justice NOW!!!: http://bit.ly/9OO5p9 via @addthis
- Facebook | Rally at Turlington! Justice for Kofi!: http://bit.ly/bWL532
- UF student Kofi Adu-Brempong shot | Gainesville.com: http://bit.ly/bTS0RF
- Justice for Kofi Adu-Brempong, Phd student shot by US police: http://bit.ly/d4Lezn
- Justice for Kofi Adu-Brempong - http://bit.ly/bUoOO6 #ireport
- Democracy Now! | Headlines for March 17, 2010Mar 17, 2010 ... Follow us on Twitter .... University of Florida Students Protest Police Shooting of African Graduate Student: Kofi Adu-Brempong: http://bit.ly/9bbV4o
- Justice for Kofi Adu-Bremoubg on Facebook. Updates on further organizing, Adu-Brempong's condition, and more are regularly posted at the "Justice for Kofi Adu-Brempong" Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&gid=336549896343 (Facebook membership not required to view).