Published November 15, 2017
Shortly before noon, one week ago, 14-year-old Jason Ike Pero, a tribal citizen of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe, was shot and killed by Brock Mrdjenovich, an Ashland County sheriff’s deputy, who has been an officer for about a year.
The incident became one more tragedy for an American Indian family. The incident became one more time an officer killed an American Indian.
The number of American Indians killed by police has more than doubled between 2015 and 2016. Sadly, the Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice reports on a per capita basis, American Indians are more likely to be killed by police than any other racial/ethnic group in the United States.
In the immediate days after the killing Pero’s family demanded answers from law enforcement about the death of their son and grandson.
On Saturday, the Wisconsin Department of Jusitce provided an updated the day the family was hosting ceremonies to bury their dead teen. Not surprsing, the report provided a very one-sided account about what happened on last Wednesday morning.
A portion of the report reads:
Pero approached Deputy Mrdjenovich with a large butcher knife and he refused numerous commands to drop the weapon. On two occasions, Pero lunged at the deputy while the deputy was attempting to retreat. Deputy Mrdjenovich fired his service weapon at Pero, striking him twice. Life-saving measures were initiated however, Pero was pronounced dead at Memorial Medical Center in Ashland. DCI has determined Jason Pero was the same person that called 911 reporting a man with a knife, giving his own physical description. Initial information indicates that Pero had been despondent over the few days leading up to the incident and evidence from a search warrant executed on Pero’s bedroom supports that information.
Some eyewitnesses are reportedly disputing Pero had a knife. Some say he only had a phone with him.
Late Monday night, Native News Online talked to a neighbor, who chooses to remain anonymous at this time.
“Nothing I have heard or seen from him put up any red flags. He spent a lot of time in my house and ate many dinners with us at our kitchen table. One was just a couple days before the incident,” commented the neighbor to Native News Online.
The final report is weeks away from being completed. In the meantime, the Bad River Indian Reservation citizens will be left to only speculate about what really happened last week.
Pero’s family and the Bad River tribal community deserve an answer as to why the officer was trigger happy and fired a fatal shot into Jason Ike Pero.