On December 9th, Winston-Salem resident Travis Page died after being handcuffed by four Winston-Salem police officers. After being handcuffed.
It’s a story all too familiar — a young black man dies — not in a shootout with police — but while under police custody.
It is irrelevant what Travis Page did or was accused of doing. Unless he was attacking police with violent force, he shouldn’t have died. Unless…
Unless it was… suicide? An accident? So the burning question becomes… what happened?
Fortunately, three of the four officers had body cams (the fourth was a trainee and was not required to have a body cam). What will those cameras show? We won’t know, at least not for a while. District Attorney Jim O’Neill will not be releasing the videos since they are evidence in the police investigation.
Mayor Joines and the Winston-Salem Journal are among the many who are calling for the video release.
Chad Nance over at Camel City Dispatch has been doing the yeoman’s work on this, and has a nice breakdown of what is known from the public record:
- At approximately 7:28pm on December 9th the WSPD received a 911 call reporting shots fired at the Family Dollar location on Rural Hall Rd.
- The person who called in the complaint described a suspect fitting Travis Page’s description.
- The suspect was described as being six-feet, four-inches tall, heavy set, and wearing a blue shirt and dark shorts.
- Responding officers were 20 year veteran, Corporal Robert Fenimore, 22 year veteran Officer Christopher Doub, 3 year veteran Officer Austin Conrad and trainee Officer Jacob Tuttle.
- Officers found Page a short distance from the Family Dollar. According to the WSPD he ran when police approached.
- According to an officer on the scene recorded in a citizen video (Taken sometime after the confrontation and the arrival of Forsyth County EMS, but before Page had been taken to the hospital) Page was running away from police when he fell.
- According to police, Page ingested a controlled substance at this time. The particular substance that he allegedly ingested has not been identified at this time.
- The WSPD’s report indicates that Page resisted arrest and the officers had to use pepper spray on him. The officer who administered they spray has not been identified.
- Officers have indicated that once Page was handcuffed he became “Unresponsive”.
- According to the police report, the responding officers and Forsyth County EMS attempted to use life-saving measures to revive Page. They have not been specific about what these measures entailed.
- Officers claim that they found a gun and controlled substances on Page before he was taken to the hospital.
- Travis Page was pronounced dead at the hospital.
- According to public records Travis Page did have a criminal history that included assault on a police officer and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon while on probation.
- Page’s mother told local media that her son had a variety of medical conditions including bronchitis and gout. Travis Page’s medical records are protected by HIPPA laws and that information must be considered anecdotal at this time.
- The SBI is now handling the investigation into the death of Travis Page and the officers have been placed on administrative duty as is common procedure in these kinds of cases.
- WSPD’s Lt. Catrina Thompson has stated publicly that the body cam footage will not “Embarrass Winston-Salem.”
(Read the story — Mr. Nance clearly knows more than he is willing to write about)
It would be inappropriate to pass judgement on the officers at this point. But this incident is on a lot of peoples’ radar.