Frustration boils over at town hall
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- A town hall meeting with hopes of bringing the Gainesville community together divided it.
Tensions flared at the Powerhouse church Tuesday night as residents and law enforcement talked about the police-involved shooting that killed 16-year-old Robert Dentmond Sunday night. Frustration that ended the meeting early.
"They don't want to hear from the community," Jecomiah Walker and Bryant Hodges explained. "It's not just about her son, it's about the community trying to prevent it from happening again."
Walker and Hodges were two of a handful of Dentmond's friends who spoke out during the agenda'd town hall.
"It's like they're sweeping everyone's emotions under the rug. and it's only frustrating to people in here trying to speak."
Dentmond's step mother asked the public for their patience as the investigation unfolds.
"Let them do what they need to do. Everyone is allowed to feel how they want to feel - entitled to their own opinion. Regardless of how you feel, it's not gonna going to bring my child back."
Walker wondered why they held the meeting if the investigation is still pending.
"If the officers can't speak about the case or anything of what's going on, why are they here? What's the point of having this meeting if they can't say anything?
Sheriff Sadie Darnell says those who disrupted were outsiders and this meeting was about the start of addressing mental health issues in our community.
"How we can better respond to it, how we can better raise awareness and how we can better intervene," she told TV20 after the meeting.
While others raise questions of the organizers' true intentions.
"It was a publicity stunt, they didn't want to hear us. They wanted to help them to calm down the community."
Nine officers in total fired their guns Sunday night. Some wondering if the incident could have ended differently.
"I'm not saying the officers were wrong or he was wrong," Walker shared. "At night that bb gun looks like an assault rifle. The officers did their job but they could have done it a different way."
Officers were supposed to talk about the policy that explains why so many shots were fired, but the meeting was called before getting to that point.
Counseling services, from the Alachua County Crisis Center, are available 24/7 at 352-264-6789.
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