GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — When the three men who want to be Grand Rapids’ next police chief are in town Wednesday to meet the public, one of them may face questions about a 1997 shooting that left a man dead.
A tip from a viewer brought News 8’s attention to the incident involving then-Milwaukee Police Officer Jutiki Jackson.
According a Chicago Tribune article from 1997, Jackson was involved in a traffic stop on Nov. 1 of that year. The passenger in the car, James Rey Guerrero, allegedly ran away. Jackson caught up with him. During a reported struggle, Jackson ended up shooting and killing Guerrero.
An inquest jury was put together to hear the case and make a recommendation to the prosecutor. According to the Tribune article, the jury heard conflicting reports from eyewitnesses. Some testified the suspect was already on the ground and there was no struggle with Jackson. But Jackson testified that there was a struggle and that his gun went off during it. The inquest jury ruled the shooting an accident and no charges were filed.
Jackson went on the move up the ranks of the Milwaukee Police Department, retiring in 2019 as an inspector, one of the highest ranks in the agency.
While the incident did not seem to hurt his career, it impacted him personally. During a brief phone conversation with Jackson Monday, he told News 8 the shooting was “a very terrible situation,” and that it is “something that I think about every day and offer prayers to the family.”
He declined to answer any specific questions.
The city paid an executive search firm $32,000 in September to vet and compile a list of candidates to replace retiring Chief Eric Payne.
In a statement provided to News 8, the city said it was aware of the shooting, but also noted that Jackson went on to have a long and “distinguished” career with Milwaukee police:
The statement from the city goes on to say the public will be able to question all three candidates about their backgrounds and qualifications at a special forum later this week.
“It (the shooting) has been brought to my attention,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss added in a separate statement to News 8. “I will look forward to hearing from Jutiki along with the other candidates this week as the process moves forward.”
The public forum runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall. You can submit questions to that forum online in advance. If you aren’t going to the meeting in person, your question must be submitted online by 5:30 p.m. Monday. You can then watch the forum on Comcast Channel 26 or on the city’s Facebook page or YouTube channel.
The other finalists include Battle Creek Police Department Chief Jim Blocker and Chicago Police Commander Eric Winstrom.
A final decision on who will become the next chief will be up to City Manager Mark Washington.