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Okaloosa NAACP raises concerns over taser death involving Crestview Police Department

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The Okaloosa County branch of the NAACP say they will be an advocate for the family of the Calvin Wilks, Jr. who died hours after being tased during an incident with Crestview Police Department on Thursday.

On Monday, Lewis Jennings, president of the Okaloosa NAACP, released a statement saying the organization will “stand ready to assist” the family as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates the encounter.

According to a news release from the Crestview Police Department, a 911 call was received at around 2:45 a.m. Thursday from a concerned citizen who heard a person yelling “stop, please stop” from a residence on Hospital Drive. At the residence, officers made contact with 40-year-old Calvin Wilks, Jr. who was initially cooperative with police, the release said.

Wilks agreed to step outside, but then closed the door. After five minutes, he returned to the door in a “highly agitated state,” according to police. He told officers he did not live at the address, and gave misleading information on the whereabouts of the female who did live there. He became more “erratic and aggressive” and attempted to close the door on the officer’s foot. At one point, he was kicking the detaining officers, which is when he was tased in the hip and restrained.

Because of his behavior, officers were concerned Wilks was under the influence of drugs and called Okaloosa EMS and the Crestview Fire Department to assist. As paramedics were administering help, Wilks became unresponsive and was transported to North Okaloosa Medical Center where he died Friday.

Chief Stephen McCosker said the department immediately contacted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to assist with an investigation. He couldn’t comment on the incident since it is under investigation, but said the department is trying to “be as transparent as possible.” Police have already meet with Wilks’ family and shared body-camera footage with them.

At the request of Jennings, Crestview City Manager Tim Bolduc and McCosker had a three-hour meeting with Jennings and two other members of the Okaloosa NAACP on Friday.

Jennings said he was contacted by the family of Wilks, who was Black, to help be a voice for their family.

“They are very distraught and concerned,” he said. “We have volunteer counselors and preachers reaching out. There’s kids in the family who are asking ‘Why did this happen?’”

Even after reviewing the body-camera footage, Jennings is not placing blame on anyone at this time. In Monday's release, he said the organization wants to know "what cause this young man to loss [sic] his life during what should have been a routine wellness check."

He said the local NAACP chapter will continue to advocate for the family.

“We will stay with them until justice is served — however it comes down,” Jennings said. “All we know now is that there was a tasing and a person died. We are with the family and supporting them while we wait for the investigation to conclude.”

Jennie joined WUWF in 2018 as digital content producer and reporter.