There will be a protest in downtown Newton at 6 p.m. in relation to William “Matt” Holmes, a man who was shot and killed by a McPherson County Deputy following a car chase that began in Harvey County in 2017.
Sydney Mook, who helped organize the event “Justice Walk for Matt” said those participating will gather in the downtown Dollar General parking lot at 6 p.m. and will start walking at 6:30 p.m. from the Dollar General on Main Street up to the Harvey County Courthouse and back down to the Dollar General.
“We want peace and justice for his mom,” she said.
Mook said she was a close friend of Holmes. She said the recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of that city’s police department motivated her to organize the walk, as she wanted to call attention to the fact that the officers involved in Holmes’ death had not faced consequences.
She repeated that she wanted the event to be peaceful and was concerned about rumors of others coming from out of town to cause trouble.
She said she’s also been in contact with the Newton Police Department, and a detective had asked her if she needed help and volunteered to drop off coolers of water for those walking.
According to previous Newton Now articles, Holmes died after being shot by a McPherson County Deputy following a high-speed car chase Aug. 28, 2017. The chase began after Newton police attempted to pull the vehicle over in relation to a burglary report.
The chase continued into McPherson County, where the vehicle Holmes was in came to a stop after hitting spike strips.
The Newton Police Department stated that Holmes refused commands and was then shot at with both a bean bag gun, as well as a taser.
A police dog was sent in to subdue him, and an officer followed, resulting in a struggle.
The officer claimed that he felt Holmes reaching for his gun, yelled out, and the observing McPherson Sheriff’s Deputy then shot Holmes in the torso, resulting in his death.
McPherson District Attorney Greg Benefiel declined to file charges against the deputy, Chris Somers, ruling the killing was justified by Somers’s belief that Holmes was reaching for an officer’s weapon.
The family of Holmes has since filed a federal law suit against the Newton Police Department as well as the Harvey and McPherson County Sheriff’s Departments. In statements made to Kansas Public Ready, Holmes’s mother, Wendy Couser, a former juvenile intake officer at the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office, said that he suffered from schizophrenia and that officers involved knew of Holmes’s condition.