Mother grieving daughter forgives son-in-law, calls for diverse police force

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KENTWOOD, Mich. -- The mother of a woman killed by her husband three months ago in Kentwood shared powerful messages of forgiveness, as well as her call for equal representation and diversity in law enforcement.

"We’re all just hurting horribly," said Katie Jackson, speaking with FOX 17 at her Wyoming home Thursday. "Where does all this hurt go?”

Jackson recalled her daughter Casey Kempker and her strength, understanding and her love for her three children.  As a mother, she's grateful her daughter knew how much she loved her, saying two weeks before Kempker was killed, she went over to her daughter's house to address recent domestic abuse between Kempker and her husband Lamont Gulley.

“I said to Casey, ‘You made me the happiest woman in the world Casey, I had you. I know what love is. I had you," said Jackson.

Last month, Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth released body camera and dash camera footage when no charges were issued against the involved officer. Each body camera was worn by Grand Rapids Police Department officers on the tragic snowy night of April 8.

Gulley stabbed Kempker 15 times in their home, killing her in front of her 7-year-old son who has autism. Gulley ran into the neighborhood and officers say he refused to drop his knife and stabbed a K-9 officer in its bulletproof vest before police shot and killed him.

Through strength, acknowledging Gulley's mental illnesses saying "he suffered hell on earth," Jackson says she forgives him.

“You have to come to forgiveness, you have to," said Jackson. "I’d be carrying my couch on my back if I didn’t. I’m not saying I'm not grieving. I cry every single day for the loss of my daughter, every day. It’s not easy."

Today Jackson demands change in law enforcement.

“When Kentwood doesn’t have any black officers?" said Jackson in frustration through tears. "34 percent of the population in Kentwood happen to black and they have zero officers? Kentwood needs to wake up and smell the coffee. There’s something wrong.”

And when the demographics of the Kentwood Police Department, along with other police forces, represent their community, Jackson calls for peace.

"Love one another," urged Jackson. "Forgive. If anything you learned out of this: forgiveness.”

FOX 17 spoke with Kentwood Police Chief Tom Hillen Thursday, who said he respects Jackson and her sentiments.

Hillen said while KPD has no black officers currently working with their department, he works to recruit minorities. Hillen spoke to the general difficulty of recruiting a diverse police force based on academy graduates, and in retaining officers in his mid-size department.

In regards to body cameras, Hillen confirmed KPD has four body cameras. Each are typically deployed with their officers in the mall or patrolling by motorcycle or bicycle.

He said there is no time frame on buying a full set of body cameras. However, as of this spring the police department spent roughly $170,000 on fully outfitting their patrol cars with a new dash camera system.

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3 comments

  • Hateu

    What does needing more black officers have to do with her daughter being killed by a black man ? Statistically she would be less safe, since black on black crime is a plague. Even while grieving she has to be racist. If a white person said …we shall start

  • Commonsense

    So, her daughter is stabbed multiple times by a black man. How does this necessitate the call to diversify a police department? Honey, wake up. Your daughter died at the hands of an abuser. Be happy that the police department has standards. Pass the tests, get the certifications, pass the physical, background checks and drug screens. Then, you deserve to be hired by public safety. One does not deserve to be hired because of one’s skin color or nationality. Sorry, blame the trash your daughter was hanging with, stop passing the buck!