TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The public comment portion of Tuesday night's Topeka City Council meeting took a tense turn when supporters of Dominique White raised the issue and one of them took specific aim at a single council member.
White was shot and killed by two Topeka Police officers in September, and the case is still under review. His supporters took to the podium Tuesday night to express to City leaders their frustration with the process.
“We’ve sat here for the past three and a quarter hours listening to you guys talk about the importance of potbelly pigs, and that of their lives, but not that of the life of Dominique White,” Yasmari Rodriguez told the council.
Family members have urged police to release the body cam footage from that day as well as the names of the officers involved, pointing to the officers' employment contract to bolster their case.
“There’s no provision in this contract which stops the police from giving the names to family. And there’s no provision in the contract that stops the police from giving the names to the City Council,” Rev. Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan argued, while reading the contract.
The discussion grew heated during Rodriguez' comments when she singled out District 3 representative Sylvia Ortiz directly.
“It’s disgusting to listen and watch several of you all, including you Miss Sylvia Ortiz, be so disengaged with the people that voted for you. Directly in that community…” she began.
At that point, Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast tried to intervene because the rules for public comment only allow speaking to the council as a whole and prohibit addressing any specific member.
But, when he tried to interrupt Rodriguez, Ortiz indicated she wanted to let Rodriguez continue, telling Wolgast to "let her go, Mayor. Let her go." At which point, Rodriguez wrapped up by telling her "...that you don't do anything."
"I don't have a problem with them calling me out," Ortiz replied. "Because they don’t know who I’ve talked to. They don’t know who I’ve met with. They don’t know what I’ve done. They don’t know what information I’ve asked for."
The whole Council did go into executive session Tuesday night in order to discuss the White issue, Wolgast confirmed to 13 NEWS. He did not say what pertaining to the case was discussed, however he says he understands the heightened interest.
“When it's high profile, people become impatient. (They) want to have an answer right away and many on the council do also. But this is the process we have to go through and follow," Wolgast said.
Under Kansas law, the state is only required to allow White's heir, or executor or administrator of his estate to view the body cam video, because it's part of an ongoing investigation. All of White's children are 13 and under. As for an executor, the White family attorney says they are awaiting court approval.
Lawrence police turned the case over to Shawnee Co. District Attorney Mike Kagay last week. He would not say how long it will take to review the files and make a decision on whether any charges are warranted.