Parents of 23-year-old found dead in Galesburg file complaint against police

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There’s still a small memorial along Cedar Fork in Galesburg, Illinois keeping the memory of Tyler Smith alive, but his parents say the Galesburg Police Department has already forgotten him. 

Thursday night they presented a discrimination complaint against the department to Galesburg’s Community Relations Commission. 

“Tyler L. Smith may have been just another deceased young black male in the eyes of the Galesburg Police Department, but Tyler is a human being who has a mother and a father who love him very much,” Sandra Halsne, Tyler’s mom, said during the meeting.

Halsne said she has spent each night in her son’s room since he died and that a lack of answers is making closure impossible for her and Tyler’s dad, Keith Smith. 

“We do not feel satisfied as the Galesburg police investigated our son’s death without any or little effort,” she said.

Halsne said surveillance video from local businesses went unchecked and the people who with Tyler in his last hours weren’t questioned for two months. Galesburg Police Chief David Christensen said they had examined video from multiple businesses, and only spotter Tyler once.

Halsne said she think there’s a of interest because of discrimination.

“Did investigators see a mixed race young man from California and make a decision not to investigate? Did they see interracial parents and make a conscious decision to dedicate their time to other things?” Halsne said.

The parents have officially submitted a complaint about the police department. City attorney Bradley Nolden said they’ve already started investigating the complaint and will have multiple meetings with Halsne and Smith over the next several weeks.

The parents were hoping the Community Relations Commission would also be able to help with their complaint, but the commissioners said they can’t investigate complaints against the city. Instead they told the parents they could file another complaint with the state.

The mother says she’s not trying to start a war with police — she just wants answers.

“I am constantly replaying the events of the night of Tyler’s death in my mind trying to piece together a more logical explanation of what happened to my son,” Halsne said.

Halsne and Smith both said they are relying on the public to help piece together what happened in their son’s last hours. Anyone with information is asked to email them at Timeline4Ty15@yahoo.com. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 309-344-0044 or the Galesburg Police Department at 309-343-9151.

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