The NAACP is questioning whether Lexington police “followed state laws and two of their policies that could have prevented the death of two children at the hands of their mother” earlier this month.
Nikki James, 43, is charged with two counts of murder in the May 2 deaths of her children, Skyler Williams, 5, and Deon Williams, 13.
Police have said they went to the home on May 1 for a welfare check. The following day, they were called to the home again when neighbors reported seeing James covered in blood and banging on doors while saying “Kill yourself, kill the kids,” a police detective testified in court. Police found the children, who were declared dead at a local hospital, with lacerations and stab wounds inside James’ Rogers Road apartment.
The Lexington-Fayette County branch of the NAACP has issued a news release asking the mayor and urban county council to conduct an investigation into how police responded when they went to the home May 1.
The organization questioned whether James should have been taken to a psychiatric facility and whether officers reached out to agencies “that could have removed the children from the home prior to their death.”
The Lexington Police Department said in an emailed statement Friday night that the two officers who responded to James’ home May 1 were called there “for a wellness check, not a mental health emergency,” and they “did not observe any indicators that additional mental health assistance was needed” while speaking with James at the door.
Police said the officers who responded had been through Crisis Intervention Team training, a 40-hour course that teaches them to recognize and respond to signs of mental illness.
“The caller was not Nikki James (the mother) nor the children’s father. The caller was a third party that knew the family and had recently been in contact with the father.
“It had been relayed to the caller that Ms. James stated she was in a cult and was in fear for her life. The caller also stated there were 2 children in the home,” police said in the statement. “When officers arrived, they spoke with Ms. James at the door to the apartment. Ms. James stated that she did not know the caller, why the call was made, and that she did not need any assistance.”
Police said the person who called them “only stated that Ms. James was in fear for her life, not the children.”
The NAACP asked the following questions in their news release:
“1) Did LPD officers witness a mother having a mental health crisis that should have resulted in her being transported to a psychiatric facility?
2) Did LPD officers witness a mother who was unable to protect two children?
3) Did LPD officers that responded to the 911 calls prior to the death of the children request help from a more trained officer in mental health?
4) Did LPD officers reach out to the known governmental agencies and community resources that could have removed the children from the home prior to their death?”
Lexington police responded in their statement:
“1. Officers did not witness anyone having a mental health crisis nor did they have ‘reasonable grounds to believe that an individual is mentally ill and presents a danger or threat of danger to self, family, or others if not restrained.’
2. Officers did not witness a mother who was unable to protect her children.
3. Officers who responded did not request assistance from other officers, both officers that responded were CIT trained.
4. Officers did not reach out to other governmental agencies to remove the children as they did not observe conditions that would require such action.”
“This is an open case,” city spokeswoman Susan Straub said in an email. “The mayor’s office has no comment outside of the police response.”