Special Report: State College Divided

Local News

State College, Pa- WTAJ takes an in-depth look at what officials and community protestors say about an officer-involved shooting resulting in the death of Osaze Osagie.

Two months after the shooting, the protests continue, along with efforts to bring the community together… but at the moment, given the divisiveness on the events surrounding Osagie’s death, it may be difficult to predict what the future holds in Happy Valley.

The video above is the special report that aired Wednesday evening.

“Need another unit to 1310 Old Boalsburg Road…Shots Fired! Shots Fired!”

The police scanner lit up just after 2:00pm on March, 20, 2019, when a State College Police Officer fired deadly shots at 29-year-old Osaze Osaige… now some community members are firing back with opinions, questions and protests.

“We demand that the officers involved are fired, and subsequently charged for their crimes,” said a leader of “We Are Not” during a die-in protest at the State College Municipal Building.

This demand came before Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna could piece together the findings of his investigation on the case.

“Officer number one was in a life or death situation at the time that he fired… and he had no other option but to shoot in defense of himself and officer number two,” Cantorna said.

Police say that life or death situation was Osagie charging at officers with a steak knife.

When the DA cleared the officers, citing self-defense and justified force… it only sparked more controversy.

Some protestors took to the streets in State College. Others asked questions like: Did officers have to knock on Osagie’s door?… Or could’ve other mental agencies handled the situation?

Reports show that an agency (Can Help) reached out to State College Police, asking them to find Osagie… which led them to his basement apartment.

Some ask why officers didn’t leave and de-escalate the sitution when they saw Osagie had a knife drawn. But, Cantorna’s report says the close quarters in the hallway outside of Osagie’s apartment, combined with Osagie running towards police from a short distance away gave officers no other options.

Cantorna added that if officers had left, Osagie could’ve taken his own life, or killed his roomate who was sleeping in his bed when the shots were fired.

 

This investigation also revealed that Osagie was a paranoid schizophrenic. He left several text messages to his father the day before he died… including one saying: “Let’s see how much time I have before finding out what life after death is really about.”

It’s believed by some that Osagie wanted to meet God. Experts who read the DA’s report back this up, saying Osagie was experiencing auditory hallucinations… believing God was speaking to him. Mental health professionals say this is common among devoutly religious schizophrenics.


In the moments before officers shot and killed Osagie, they told him to drop the knife. Officers say he first shouted “shoot me” and when officers mentioned pulling out a taser, he said “no, I want to die.”

The report says the taser didn’t stop Osagie and he was shot seconds afterwords.

More questions remain on how his life could’ve been saved.

“The entire report hinges on the testimony of the three officers involved, so when we’re talking about transparency and accountability… to just take the word of the officers seems very short sighted and convenient, and we would like an independent investigation,” said Melanie Morrison, from Millheim, Centre County who leads a new group called the 3/20 Coalition.

There’s also the question of race. Jennifer Black believes race was an issue in this case.

“Race determined Osaze Osagie’s premature death… and also the protection and defense of those responsible for ending it,” she said before State College Borough Council .

But, Sergeant William Slayton, Heritage Affairs Commander for Pennsylvania State Police said race was not a factor.

“Whether these officers were white, black, hispanic, asian, any reasonable officer would’ve reacted in the exact same manner that these officers did,” Slayton said.

Officers and borough officials have held several community meetings to discuss the case with a divided public… but many locals are still unhappy.

“We were promised transparency… what we got was distraction deception and condescension in the form of an officer of color telling us race had nothing to do with this act,” said Morrison at a special State College Borough Council Meeting.

It’s been two weeks since the DA announced the results of this officer-involved shooting and not much has changed.

Officials hope after multiple community meetings on the subject, a new task force will bring the community back together.

But, it remains to be seen if the community and law enforcement will work together to ensure this never happens again in Happy Valley.

Wednesday, the 3/20 Coalition was outside of the Centre County Courthouse demanding a new independent investigation outside of the DA’s report.

Cantorna and State Police remain confident that their report is based on facts and was as thorough and transparent as possible.

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