WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – “We need information, and if we don’t there won’t be rest or peace until we do,” was a message from Reverend Alvin Carlisle, at a Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity press conference Friday afternoon.
The press conference was called to push for the immediate release of evidence pertaining to the death of 31-year-old Travis Page, who died after being taken into custody by Winston-Salem Police on Wednesday.
“We don’t want city officials, we don’t want the criminal justice system to stonewall us, to block us from finding out what really happened,” said Bishop Todd L. Fulton, President of the Ministers' Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity.
Police say they encountered Page on Old Rural Hall Road as they responded to a report of a firearm being discharged. They say Page matched the description of a man given to them in the report. When they attempted to detain Page, they say, a brief struggle occurred. Page was pepper sprayed and put into handcuffs, they say, and then became unresponsive.
Officers and EMS personnel attempted to revive Page, but he was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
“We have so many limited facts that we don’t have any particular issue that we are just looking for information on,” Carlisle said.
Police say Page had a gun and a controlled substance on him at the time.
“For Mr. Page, the criminal justice system works the same way for him as it does for the four officers involved. Innocent until proven guilty,” Carlisle said.
Police say that four officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative duty. Those officers were identified as Corporal Robert Fenimore, Officer Christopher Doub, Officer Austin Conrad and Officer Jacob Tuttle.
Three of the four officers were wearing body cameras during the incident, a police spokesman said on Thursday. Now, the men and women at the press conference are calling upon the district attorney to release the video, which has been claimed as evidence.
They say when there is a “frustration in the flow of information, it always causes discontent.”
“I will be honest with you,” Carlisle said. “Right now there is a level of that brewing, and we’re trying to make sure for the sake of our city, for the sake of our leaders, for the sake of all of Forsyth County, that if we can get information we won’t experience what we’ve experienced in some other areas.”
When asked what a reasonable timetable for the release of the video was, Dr. John Mendez said history “tells us that in a matter of days a decision can be made if there needs to be a criminal investigation. If there’s not going to be a criminal investigation, let’s release the video.”
Members of the ministers’ conference said Page’s death is similar to deaths we have seen across the country, which caused uprisings in certain communities. However, council member James Taylor said Winston-Salem is different because they “are standing united, and we’re standing united calling for the release of the footage.”
“I think that the administration and the community leaders have done their job, and we’ll be proud of Winston-Salem when this is all said and done,” Taylor said.
Page did have a criminal history, including felonies and a misdemeanor assault on an officer or state employee charge. However, those speaking at Friday’s press conference said the issue is not Page’s criminal history, it’s how and why he died.