The mother of a man who was shot dead by officers of the Daphne Police Department (DPD) in April said she’s desperate to get more answers about the incident from Baldwin County law enforcement officials, but hasn’t received any.
Adrienne Moore, the mother of Derick Powe, told Lagniappe much of the narrative she’s heard from witnesses and others with knowledge of Powe’s actions the day of the shooting aligns with some of the little information investigators have disclosed.
According to the Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit, at approximately 2:30 p.m. April 17, DPD officers responded to a report of a man pointing a gun at neighbors on Daphmont Drive. There, they determined 29-year-old Powe “had been acting erratically throughout the day and fired at least one shot.”
Officers were initially unable to locate Powe, but while talking with neighbors, were notified he was driving by. The investigating officers got into their vehicles and attempted to conduct a traffic stop when, at approximately 3 p.m., officers made contact with Powe near Harnora Drive and gave him verbal commands to walk toward the officers with his hands visible, according to MCU.
During the encounter, Powe allegedly “presented a firearm” and was shot by the officers, later succumbing to his injuries at the scene.
Moore and a witness both told Lagniappe Powe had indeed been acting erratically, but disputed any suggestion he was ever a danger to himself or others. Moore said her son, a Daphne native and Daphne High School graduate who later attended culinary school in Texas, was diagnosed with psychosis several years ago after having a bad reaction to an unknown illicit drug he believed was marijuana.
“Sometimes he would be himself — the normal Derick — and sometimes you would catch him talking to himself and laughing,” Moore said. “But even with all that going on, Derick would not harm a fly.”
Still, the diagnosis made it difficult for him to maintain employment and he often spent his days sitting outside his house on Daphmont Drive, drinking beer or wine and grilling out for friends and family. He had two young sons and dreamt of reopening his grandmother’s former restaurant in Mobile, in a building that is currently being rented to another tenant.
Kalicia Sledge, who described herself as Powe’s best friend and neighbor, said she knew Powe her entire life and admitted “these past years, he has been a little different. Sometimes he’d be in his right mind and sometimes he’d be a little off.”
Sledge and Powe were hanging out the day of the shooting and in spite of him talking about conspiracies and being armed, she said she never felt threatened.
“He was never violent; he just was very protective and overprotective,” she said. “There would be kids out there — my kids and his kids — and I’ve never seen him threaten anybody. Never. Especially people in the neighborhood.”
But Sledge also said new neighbors had moved in who didn’t know Powe.
“He had some knives in his hand and a revolver in his pocket,” she said. “He was saying the government was waging chemical warfare — killing us off with the virus or whatever — and he had a bayonet inside he wanted to show me because he knew I was in the military.”
Sledge said Powe never fired a shot, but did take the gun out of his pocket and she noticed the hammer was pulled back. She did not know if it was loaded.
“So when he went back in the house, that’s when we saw the police in the neighbor’s yard,” she said.
Sledge said four or five “police trucks” arrived and officers were armed with shotguns and rifles. Although they were across the street, they were looking toward Powe’s house.
“So I put two and two together and thought maybe somebody called [the police] on Derick,” she said.
Sledge said she grabbed her cell phone and called Powe in the house, telling him to put the gun away and come outside.
“He’s like, ‘OK.’ He understood me and everything,” she said. “About three or four minutes passed by and we see Derick walk out to his car … and he drove past us.”
Sledge said when the new neighbor pointed him out to the police, they jumped in their cars in pursuit. Moments later, she heard shots down the road.
“I heard the shots first and then I got in my car to go down, to make sure it wasn’t him, but it was,” she said.
Moore said her aunt lives on Harnora Drive and it was likely Powe’s destination. But other questions are more pressing.
“One of the neighbors that lived next door to my aunt told me that when she saw that my son was still breathing, she noticed they wouldn’t let SouthFlight come down to administer medical attention to him, nor would they let the first EMS come down to administer medical attention to him,” Moore said. “With her being an RN, she said she tried to go over there and administer CPR but the cops told her to get back.”
The woman allegedly went back to her own house, called 911 for another ambulance and later “raised hell with the cops, and that’s when they let the EMS come,” Moore said.
“My son was still breathing, but he was breathing real shallow like he was trying to gasp for air,” she said. “I don’t know how many times my baby was shot because nobody will tell me nothing. I’ve tried to reach out to [an investigator] to the point I’m tired of trying to reach out. He will not return my calls and he will not reply to my emails. I’ve requested to see the body-cam footage, I’ve asked when it is going to the grand jury and nobody will tell me anything. I’ve contacted the DA’s office and they said they have no record of this case.”
Moore said a records request she sent to the state forensics lab was returned unfulfilled, noting approval was needed by the district attorney and the case was still under investigation. A message Moore subsequently sent to Lagniappe from Daphne Police Capt. Judson Beedy told her the investigation had been turned over to the Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit (MCU), along with “all the videos and evidence.”
MCU consists of dozens of members of the Baldwin County law enforcement community, including members of the Daphne Police Department, and is tasked with independently investigating all officer-involved shootings in the county, along with in-custody deaths and unsolved murders.
Lt. Andre Reid of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office, commander of MCU, told Lagniappe the case still “has not been presented to a grand jury and we will not be releasing any of the evidence we plan to present.”
“If I had any general information regarding our protocol it would be that all officer-involved shootings are presented to a grand jury,” Reid wrote. “Also, we do not release any evidence or information that we plan to present to the grand jury as to not prejudice anyone who may be on that jury.”
But April 24, MCU released a report to the media stating, “There are currently no findings of wrongdoing or criminal action by the officers involved in the shooting.”
Asked whether the report could similarly be considered prejudicial to a grand jury, Reid responded, “Being transparent, providing information to the public, while protecting the interest of an ongoing criminal case is a tough balancing act.”
Baldwin County District Attorney Robert Wilters did not respond to a request regarding current grand jury schedules, but jury trials have been postponed until September by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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