Ulyssess Wilkerson is pictured in an undated family photo.
Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
A 17-year-old Alabama boy’s encounter with police over Christmas weekend ended with him bloodied, bruised and broken, and his family and the community are demanding answers from law enforcement officials.
Agents from Alabama’s State Bureau of Investigation are investigating the incident, which took place late Saturday night in Troy. Police officials there told WSFA in Montgomery that the teen, Ulysses Wilkerson, was spotted emerging from behind a closed downtown business around 11:52 p.m. that night.
Officers said the teen ran as they approached him, so they gave chase. WSFA reported that the officers said they used force after Ulysses failed to comply with orders to put his hands behind his back.
They also alleged that the teen moved his hands toward his waistband as though reaching for a weapon. Though no weapon was found on or near Ulysses, officers said that they returned to the area, retraced the path in which he ran and located a handgun on the ground.
The gun has been submitted to be processed for evidence, WSFA reported.
Ulysses’ family, who posted photos of the boy’s bloody and misshapen face on Facebook, argued that the officers tried to kill him. His mother, Angela Williams, wrote that the officers beat her son after he was already handcuffed.
Williams’ post, which showed a close-up of her son’s face, had been shared more than 82,000 times as of Thursday afternoon.
Ulysses’ father also shared multiple photos of his son on social media.
“As y’all can see, Troy police officers tried to kill my son,” the post from Sadot Wilkerson reads. “He has massive swelling and they can’t start surgery until (the) swelling goes down.”
In the graphic photos, Ulysses lies in a hospital bed, his pillow smeared with blood from his battered face. One eye is swollen completely shut and his nose and lips are caked with dried blood.
One image shows handcuffs around at least one of his wrists.
Community activist Caros Chaverst Jr. also shared the images. Like Williams, Chaverst alleged in his Facebook post that police officers punched and kicked Ulysses while the boy was already handcuffed.
He also said that Ulysses ran from the officers out of fear after he and a friend were approached.
“Upon catching him, the police left him as seen in the pictures below,” Chaverst wrote. “An unarmed kid.”
A woman who said she drove by the scene Saturday night described for WDHN seeing the officers surrounding Ulysses, who was on the ground and appeared unconscious.
“You could see the swelling of his face (and) you could tell he had a lot of bleeding,” Brittany Patterson told the news station. “It looked like he was passed out or maybe in and out of consciousness.”
Patterson said the first thought that came to her mind was, “I hope they are not beating him.”
Chaverst wrote that it was hours after the incident before any of Ulysses relatives were made aware of what happened. Williams, in posting her son’s photo just before 5 a.m. on Christmas Eve, wrote that she was only then heading to UAB, where Ulysses had been transferred from Troy Regional Medical Center for possible facial surgery.
Chaverst urged his followers to demand that the Troy Police Department and the city release body camera footage so the truth behind what happened could be made public.