City News

Vigil held at Capitol Square for slain Native American teen

Dozens rallied Thursday outside of the DOJ in solidarity of a 14-year-old killed by an Ashland County police officer.

Image By: Max Bayer

A vigil outside of the Wisconsin Department of Justice was held for Jason Pero Thursday night, a 14-year-old Native American killed by an Ashland County police officer earlier this month on Bad River Reservation.

Around 50 attendants came in solidarity of Jason’s death, including family members who feel the boy was wrongfully killed.

According to the DOJ, Ashland County Sheriff’s Deputy Brock Mrdjenovich arrived at the scene after reports of a man walking around carrying a knife. The man was later identified as Pero and was shot after refusing commands to drop the knife and eventually lunging at the officer.

The Division of Criminal Investigations determined that Pero was the one who made the initial 911 call. They also believed Pero had been “despondent over the few days leading up to the incident.”

The family of Pero refutes these claims and says the teenager is being falsely portrayed.

One relative, who attended the vigil but wished to remain anonymous, described him as a “teddy bear” and a “social butterfly.” The relative noted that Pero was never confrontational.

Pero’s cousin, Miranda Delgado, said that the officer involved should no longer be employed.

“Something needs to happen to the police officer,” she said. “The reports make it sound like my cousin was a monster or was trying to hurt him or whatnot and I don’t believe it.”

Mrdjenovich, who had worked for the Ashland County Sheriff's Office for approximately one year, has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Thursday’s event was sponsored by the Madison National Lawyers Guild and organized by Patricia Hammel, who said people must mourn Pero’s death and called on the attendees to support indigenous people.

“Believe the people of the community, not just the deputy who has a motive to protect himself and no one living to say otherwise,” she said. 

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