A Native American teenager was shot and killed by a police officer on his Wisconsin reservation last week.
Last Wednesday, cops were called on 14-year-old Jason Pero who was reportedly walking down the street holding a butcher knife. The Wisconsin Department of Justice reports Pero made the call and gave 911 operators a physical description of himself. Initial reports of the shooting stated someone called cops to report a young man with a knife but didn’t mention Pero was the one who made the call.
When officers arrived that noon, the 8th grader allegedly threatened them with a butcher knife before being fatally shot by Sheriff’s Deputy Brock Mrdjenovich.
According to NBC News, residents of the community told the outlet it wasn’t abnormal for kids to be seen with knives as they may be carving.
Pero, of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa tribe, left school on Wednesday because he’d been feeling nauseous according to his grandparents. His family questions police accounts of the incident.
“He got murdered out in front of the house here,” the young boy’s grandfather Alan Pero said in a phone interview according to WIAT. “He’s a boy. There’s warning shots. There’s Tasers. There’s pepper spray. You don’t go right on a 14-year-old kid and go for the kill zone.”
“I’m really having a hard time keeping my anger in,” Pero’s grandmother Cheryl Pero said. “You don’t come up to a 14-year-old boy and pull a gun on him and just fire. … That’s baloney. We’re asking questions. We’re not getting answers.”
The case has ignited discussion surrounding the under-reported prevalence of police brutality in the Native American community.
CNN reports Native Americans are killed by police at a rate higher than any other ethnic group. In the vein of the Black Lives Matter movement, Native Lives Matter was founded to address the police brutality epidemic in indigenous communities. Similar to BLM, which was founded in response to the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman who killed Trayvon Martin, NLM was founded in response to the police killing of Paul Castaway.
NLM sponsored a vigil for Pero the day after his death. The investigation into the boy’s killing is ongoing.