By Joe Beck
The family of Wayne Arnold Jones intensified pressure on authorities Wednesday for answers to their questions surrounding his death in a confrontation with Martinsburg police earlier this month.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, two brothers from Winchester, a sister and cousin were united in their questioning of a police account that says officers tried and failed to subdue Jones with a Taser before he produced a knife and stabbed one of them. As he tried to get to his feet, the police opened fire on him, according to the account issued by Chief Kevin Miller.
Jones's sister, Shayne Hunt, of Tampa, Fla., disclosed that he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was seeing a psychiatrist and taking medication for the illness. She said the affliction never stopped people from loving him and enjoying his company.
Hunt and other family members said they believed the police might have lacked proper training in dealing with mental patients.
Marion Meadows, Jones's cousin, traveled from Hawaii to attend his funeral Saturday and stayed on for the news conference. He said his cousin's mental condition and police reaction to it might have fueled actions leading up to the shooting.
"If my cousin has paranoid schizophrenia, I'm probably going to get real scared if I'm attacked by five police officers," Meadows said.
The officers have been placed on administrative leave while the West Virginia State Police investigate the incident. The officer who was reported stabbed did not require medical attention, according to the police. Miller was unavailable for comment about the news conference late Thursday afternoon.
Brother Bobby Jones of Winchester said he was still "shook up" from information he received from the funeral director that Wayne Jones's body had 15 bullet wounds.
"How could police officers be that cruel?" Bobby Jones said, adding that his brother "wasn't America's most wanted."
Jones said the family is still waiting to receive an autopsy report that would verify the number of bullet wounds.
All of them questioned the police report's statement that Wayne Jones had a knife and used it on an officer. They wanted photos or other evidence showing the knife.
"Why not say in the police report what kind of knife it was?" Hunt asked.
Meadows said he is skeptical of the police statement that the officer who suffered what was described as "a minor wound" from the stabbing did not require medical attention, although it did penetrate the uniform and vest.
"If I'm stabbed, I'm going to the doctor or something," Meadows said, adding, "he must be a really tough guy."
George Rutherford, president of the Jefferson County NAACP, said his organization asked the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department Wednesday morning to investigate the death of Wayne Jones.
"Why were five assumed able, capable and well-trained officers of the Martinsburg Police Department unable to restrain a relatively lightweight man after being shot twice with a Taser?" Rutherford asked.
He also called on authorities to answer other questions, including why they shot Jones as he was trying to get to his feet, why they didn't try to stop him by firing into a leg and why 15 shots were reported in the body.
James Tolbert, secretary of the West Virginia NAACP, called on Martinsburg officials to create a civilian board that would investigate future police shootings and other cases involving the use of force.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org