Police in Kansas shoot suicidal teen 16 times

kansas police shooting

Ottawa, KS (CNN) — Authorities say an 18-year-old man was shot and killed by police officers and sheriff’s deputies Saturday evening outside an Ottawa hardware store.

Ottawa police were called about 7:50 p.m. Saturday to Orscheln Farm and Home at 2008 S. Princeton St. on a report of a person reportedly armed with a gun.

Deputies with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the call.

When officers arrived, they made contact with the person, later identified as Joseph Jennings, in the parking lot.

During the encounter, officers with the Ottawa Police Department and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office were involved in a shooting.

Jennings was treated at the scene for gunshot wounds and transported to an Ottawa hospital where he later died.

“Why did it take them shooting him 16 times at least for them to bring him down and go and take care of what they needed to take care of,” Jennings’ aunt, Brandy Smith, said.

Ottawa Police Chief Dennis Butler said officers did what they were trained to do.

“They reacted based upon the training that they’ve been given from the academy,” Butler said. “We were thankful that no officer was injured from protecting themselves from risk of great bodily harm.”

Family members said Jennings had big dreams. He was starting school Monday for underwater welding. He also loved to ride his motorcycle.

“He was a really good boy,” Smith said.

But his life wasn’t perfect.

“He was suffering from depression, seizures and anxiety,” Smith said.

Smith said his seizures were getting worse in the last month, and with no relief in sight, he had begun feeling suicidal.

Two days before he was shot and killed, Jennings expressed his anguish on Facebook.

“Tonight is the night goodbye everyone!!!!! It was truly a good ride! And I’m sorry for who I might of hurted (sic) and people that I may of offended, But I love all my family and I hope you don’t hold this against me,” Jennings wrote.

Ten minutes later, according to family members, Jennings swallowed 60 pills trying to take his life.

“The two cops that was involved in the shooting was also there when they took him to Ransom Memorial Hospital for overdosing,” Smith said.

Jennings had survived the overdose, but only three hours after leaving the hospital, he walked to Orscheln Farm and Home.

Smith said he was there on a suicide mission. But when she saw what was happening she ran from her home to try to intervene.

“I told them it is Joseph Jennings. He is suicidal. He is upset, don’t shoot him,” she said.

Smith’s husband also tried to help.

“My husband was going to tackle him. He was within arms reach. They said to get back or they were going to shoot him,” Smith said.

Smith says her husband backed off and police attention turned back to Jennings.

“The cop yelled out, ‘bag him,’ and then three shots were fired with the bags. I just don’t know how many shots were fired. They shot him in the back of the leg and the back of the shoulder,” Smith said.

As a matter of policy, the police department requested assistance from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. The KBI is now handling the investigation.

Officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave while the KBI conducts the investigation, which is standard protocol.

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21 comments

  • Wendy N Barnes

    Then why did they not put him inpatient? Suicidal, axious, seizures worsening? Duh?! Did anyone think he was not taking his meds? I do not want to hear about underwater welding. Give me a break! Pretending that enrolling in school is gonna fix his problems is crazy. Don’t call the police on your troubled relatives, who are suicidal running around with weapons if having to shoot them to stop them from hurting you or someone else is not acceptable. They are not counselors or social workers. Take ‘em to a psych hospital. Go and convince the doctors and whatever insurance you’ve got that they need to stay. Tell them you cannot handle them. It is not a cop’s responsibility to babysit your ill child if you won’t advocate, put your foot down, and get something done. Is it exhausting? Is it hard? Yes. But quit putting it off on the police. I’m sick of it.

    • Cadence

      Hmm, that’s interesting, I’m in NY and found out through…….. media coverage…. on this…… media site. Listen, color isn’t the real issue here, the issue is we’re growing a military police force and I, for one, am frightened. I’ve never committed a crime and I am frightened of police. What if they get the wrong idea about me one day? And there’s nothing to stop them either. They might get a slap on the wrist. Their defense is easy – “I did what I felt I had to do” and everyone goes “well of course you did.”

      • Shelby

        I feel exactly the same way. Although, most of these shootings by police are against males, so I dont think I”m in danger myself, but my older brother has depression and could have very well been this kid. I dont think it’s a race issue at all, it’s how we train our police. When they said the officers did what their “training” said to do, then there’s something extremely wrong with how we train our police. There’s a video (which this article takes word for word) and the aunt said she didnt see any sort of weapon, and the officer they questioned said it’s “under investigation,” which pretty much means that no, he didnt have a weapon. Because if he did, the police would have NO problem saying he did.

  • Jack Daniels

    More Police thinking they can do what ever they want and get away with it.
    This is one step closer to a “police state”. Get off your power trip, it was a teenager!!!! You all are murderers!!! Regardless of the facts, of you cant take down a teenager without murdering him, you do not deserve to be a police officer!!!

  • dennisrichardson30

    Really intelligent these cops, shoot a teenager who is suicidal. This seems to indicate that police officers are very lazy.
    It was the easier way out of not having to deal with him, just shoot him and rationalize our actions later as justified. Once in the hand would have accomplished the effort to not let him kill himself. Trigger happy Neanderthal cops.

  • zeke taylor

    I don’t think you guys quite get it. He should of remained hospitalized and remained on a 24/7 watch program. He went to have them kill him on purpose. A friend of mine was working there the evening it happened. It has nothing to do with corrupt cops. If he reaches for something without a cops say so they have to act based in the assumption he has a deadly weapon. I live in Ottawa. The irony is I work at a place called lake Mary center not far from Ottawa either that facilitates mentally and physically disabled kids. Stop blaming cops for this mishap. A lot of media is being formed at the cops because of past incidents. What needs to happen is cops need to have cameras on them at all times like in Cali.

    • Scott

      So a camera would have justified shooting him? The child needed help not an execution! The law justifiying their lack of responsible behaior and compassion is what is what makes me sic. Then you defend their actions. Arrggh what if you were distraught, not thinking clearly and made the same mistske of moving your arm or wanted the police to shoot you because you had despair ? Should we shoot you as well?

    • serubiapple

      So… MAYBE that would justify them shooting him once… but 16 times? Really!? And just because you ‘reach for something’ doesnt mean they should have the right to shoot you. I read something about police storming into an old man’s house (the wrong house, btw) and shot him in bed because he was reaching for his glasses. His GLASSES. So yes, there is something very wrong with this picture. Also, that kind of jumpy attitude is pretty common in large cities where there is a lot going on all the time (gangs and other violent crimes), but I live in Salina and even with our crime problems, our police are not that jumpy. There is no way to justify this at all. None.

  • Jesse

    Ok. These cops are faggots. What kind of Morons do this? I don’t even understand the next time I’m suicidal I might as well go, hey, call the police Mom so I can get shot by police officers. Fuck America.

  • Familyties

    why in the world do police think that they HAVE to shoot a person more than 1 time? Why do they insist they have to KILL a person first & ask questions later? WHY do they think it takes more than 10 cops to get 1 person? I can’t beleive it is taught in the acadamy that when you see someone who LOOKS LIKE they might threaten you to shoot to KILL rather than shoot to disarm?? What are these cops coming too for pete’s sake? There is NO REASON whatsoever for 15 cops to get involved and they all shoot at the same time!! That is just crazy stupid! Cops are getting by literally with murder. I am scared to death to get pulled over or even go up to a cop now cause if I make a wrong move they deem “dangerous to them” then I am a dead person cause they will kill first rather than try to help or find out what is going on.

  • Arrow Smith

    I talked with two black men in Kansas the other day about the cops killing this innocent young man and they said to kill the fucking pigs and the killings will stop. I had to walk away.

  • anonymous american

    Prayers for this young man and the officers who have to live with his blood on their hands. And prayers for those who comment about our current lack of freedom but lack the intestinal fortitude to stand for it