Justice for Jason Pero. Graphic: Native Lives Matter
Law | National

Bad River Band seeks answers after police officer shoots and kills 14-year-old boy





Tribes are reaching out to the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa after a 14-year-old citizen was shot and killed by a police officer in Ashland County, Wisconsin.

Tribal officials identified the young victim as Jason Ike Pero. He was shot twice -- once in the heart and also in his right shoulder WDIO reported. Family members believe he was murdered, the station said.

"I can't think of any scenario worst case that would necessitate this kind of action for anybody, especially a 14-year-old," Andy Gokey, Jason's grandfather, told WDIO.

According to the sheriff's department, someone called 911 to report a person carrying a knife. Deputies responded to the scene around and shots were fired by one deputy at around 11:48am on Wednesday.

"The suspect was pronounced deceased at the hospital," the sheriff's department said, without explaining why the boy would be considered a "suspect."

Later in the day, the Wisconsin Department of Justice issued a press release, confirming that it was investigating the incident. Unlike the county, the state described the "juvenile-decedent" as a "subject."

"He wasn't a trouble maker," Jason's mother, Holly Gauthier, told WDIO. She said authorities have not provided any information about the shooting to the family.

News of the death spread quickly in Indian Country. Jason had relatives from the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Chairman Rick Peterson said on Thursday.

"On behalf of the Red Cliff Tribal Council and our entire community, I extend our prayers and condolences to all of Jason's family, and also to all our brothers and sisters of the Bad River Community," Peterson said. "It is with great sorrow and concern that such a young life was lost under these circumstances. We stand by each and every one of you and offer our assistance and support in any way we can. As the days go on, there will be many emotions and much grieving. We ask that as these difficult days pass, we do all we can to support each other.

The tribe will be hosting a healing feast and a talking circle at the Legendary Waters Event Center in Red Cliff on Monday at 5pm.

The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe also offered condolences. A statement from the tribe questioned why the officer engaged in deadly force against a young boy.

"We take this opportunity to state that we support our law enforcement, but we do not condone poor judgment and the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers," the tribe said on Thursday. "All law enforcement officers should be highly trained and possess other non-lethal weapons so that these deadly events can be avoided."

The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians raised similar concerns in a statement on Friday.

"Lac Vieux Desert supports local law enforcement and the job that they do in protecting the public, but that duty comes with great responsibility and the taking of a life in the line of duty must be done so as a last resort," the tribe said. "As governments, tribal, state and federal alike, we must support law enforcement and our communities by providing the proper level of funding to train officers to the greatest degree available and to provide them the necessary tools, such as non-lethal weapons, to ensure that we provide as many opportunities to avoid the tragic loss of life that too often happens today."

In neighboring Minnesota, Native Lives Matter held a vigil for Jason on Thursday evening at the Minneapolis American Indian Center in Minneapolis. The group has posted two videos from the event.

Read More on the Story:
Family of Bad River Teen Fatally Shot Seeking Justice (WDIO November 9, 2017)
Investigators Say Knife Found at Location of Officer-Involved Shooting (WDIO November 9, 2017)
Bad River Shooting fatality identified by family (The Ashland Daily Press November 9, 2017)
Mother Questions Why 14-Year-Old Son Fatally Shot by Officer (The Associated Press November 9, 2017)
The Latest: Mother: 8th grade son shot by deputy murdered (The Associated Press November 9, 2017)
14-year-old shot, killed by Wisconsin sheriff's deputy on Bad River Reservation (KMSP November 9, 2017)

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Bad River Band 'deeply saddened and troubled' by shooting of boy by police officer (November 9, 2017)