Family Of Man Killed While In Handcuffs Question Details Of His Death

Friday, February 1st 2013, 10:53 pm
By: Tess Maune

Will Perneau was in handcuffs when he died Tuesday morning in a motel room. His family shared their story with News On 6 Friday.

The Mayes County Sheriff says Perneau was cuffed, but still armed. He says Will Perneau fired at an off-duty officer, so the officer fired back.

Now those closest to Perneau say they want to be his voice, since he can no longer speak for himself.

"I don't think he went out wanting to kill anybody that day; he wasn't like that - he's not a killer," Charlotte Dack said of her brother.

His mom, Theresa Mize, said her son was the most caring man she's ever known and was very protective of his family.

"He has just been the sunshine of so many people's lives. I don't know how we're gonna get along without him, I really don't," Mize said.

1/29/2013 Related Story: Mayes County Sheriff Defends Deputy After Handcuffed Suspect Is Killed

Perneau's family members have a lot of questions, such as: how could he still be armed while in handcuffs, and why was he fatally shot?

"When you're handcuffed, you get patted down. You'd think that'd be a significant thing, you might definitely feel that when patting them down or handcuffing them behind the back where the gun supposedly was," said Will Perneau's sister Lauren Perneau.

"The idea is supposed to be to apprehend, not to execute, and I feel like he was executed," Mize said.

Following a tip, officers went to Perneau's motel room, Tuesday. They say their K-9 detected drugs, so they took Perneau into custody.

Perneau wasn't alone when he died. Ronell McLemore was in the room with him.

"I only got to see his legs on the ground, and I heard him moaning," McLemore said.

The Sheriff says McLemore wasn't cooperating, distracting officers during their pat-down of Perneau.

But McLemore says that's not true.

"There was never any struggle. I never struggled with any of the cops," McLemore said.

She said she didn't know Perneau had a gun and that she never saw any drugs, but court records show Perneau had a history with both.

Still, his family says he was turning his life around and didn't deserve to die.

"I was hoping his death was swift, and now I know it wasn't, it was drawn out and very painful," Mize said. "And that's the last thing a mother wants to know, is that their baby died slow."

The family is waiting on the Medical Examiner's report to find out how many times Perneau was shot.

A Mayes County deputy and a Salina officer are both on paid leave while OSBI investigates.