Borough Council To Hold Work Session For Community Input on Osagie Investigation
The State College Borough Council will hold a special work session Monday, May 13 to hear input from community members in response to District Attorney Bernie Cantorna’s report that no charges would be filed against the police officers involved in the death of Osaze Osagie.
Osagie died of multiple gun shot wounds after State College police officers arrived at his apartment on Old Boalsburg Road to serve a mental health warrant. Officers first used a taser before they shot an approaching Osagie.
Discussions on Osagie’s race and mental health status led to demonstrations from community members and increased participation during Council’s public hour. Last month, protestors staged a lie-in at a Council work session, forcing the meeting to adjourn early.
District Attorney Bernie Cantorna released the report Wednesday after a month-long investigation led by state police. Cantorna justified the officer’s actions stating that they were in a “life-and-death situation” when Osagie approached them with a 5.16-inch steak knife.
Heavy opposition followed from community members who wanted to see all officers charged and fired, as well as a task force overseeing the investigation. Protests in response to the report demanded justice with Osagie’s mother, Iyun, speaking to demonstrators.
“It is a fact: Police making wrong choices cut off my son’s life,” she said. “They cannot now turn around and exonerate themselves from their own choices. That is unjust.”
Council announced plans for a task force at its April 15 meeting. The task force will examine the relationship between local police, communities of color, and individuals with mental illnesses. It will also assess the creation of an office of inclusion and equity in the borough.
Many who attended the meeting expressed the need for more than just a task force, body cameras, and transparency.
“We will continue to collaborate with a wide variety of diverse, local partners to address community concerns as we seek strategies and programs designed to enhance the professional services provided by the women and men of the SCPD,” said Borough Manager Tom Fountaine in a release.
“We will also work closely with the task force being formed to identify ways of improving the response to mental health needs in Centre County as well as ways to enhance the relationships and increase trust between police and communities of color. Additional information about this task force will be released at a later date.”
The work session at 5:15 p.m. on Monday will focus on community concerns and provide updates on Council’s role in steps following the report.
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