News & Politics

Parents of Dead Teen Ask Why Police Shot Their Naked, Unarmed Son

Friends and family are demanding answers as to why the student, 18-year-old Gil Collar, was shot by police.

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A freshman student at the University of Alabama was shot and killed by police early Saturday morning, and friends and family are demanding answers as to why he was killed.

The student, 18-year-old Gil Collar was killed after he was naked and banging his head on windows at police headquarters. Collar, a high school wrestler, reportedly “assumed a ‘fighting stance’ and chased an officer before being shot.” Collar was unarmed.

The university claims that “the officer tried to retreat numerous times to defuse the situation before opening fire.” But his friends and classmates aren’t buying the police explanation as to why they had to kill an unarmed college student.

“It just upsets me that there's no other way to apprehend an unarmed student rather than shooting him. I don't understand that,” Tyler Kendrick, a sophomore at the University of Alabama, told the Associated Press.

Collar’s mother is also speaking out to the press. She told the AP that someone with knowledge of the investigation told her that videotape of the incident “shows my son never touched the police officer.”

The mother, Bonnie Smith Collar, also said: “Whatever caused the incident was something that made him act not in his normal personality.”

The case is likely to renew anger at police conduct and willingness to shoot first and ask questions later.

The killing of the student also marks the second time tragedy has struck on the University of Alabama campus. The AP notes that “Collar was the second person killed on the South Alabama campus since last year.” The news outlet reports that “a university freshman was charged with murder in the fatal stabbing of another teenager who was slain in an on-campus apartment in July 2011.”

But university officials insist the campus remains safe.


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.