SHEBOYGAN — The family of a man killed Thursday morning by a Sheboygan police officer is calling for peace in the city.
Relatives of 32-year-old Kevan Ruffin turned a protest into a vigil Thursday night to share memories of his life.
Ruffin’s family was joined by a group of protesters at 15th and Indiana where he took his last breath. Ruffin’s mother told demonstrators not to target their anger at police until they know the facts from the state’s investigation.
Dozens of people who marched the streets of Sheboygan and chanted ‘no justice, no peace’ were met with a different message from those who meant the most to Ruffin.
“Everybody knows that’s my baby,” said Ruffin’s mother Charlene Ruffin-Brand.
Charlene said she doesn’t want her son’s death to be the latest spark to national outrage toward law enforcement.
“Before anybody makes any assumptions, I want the truth, so when the investigation is over, then the truth will be known and we’ll know what’s what,” she said.
Sheboygan police said officers were called to the city’s south side shortly before 6:00 a.m. Thursday for a report of a man armed with two knives and chasing a woman.
Sheboygan Police Chief Chris Domagalski said when an officer tried to have a conversation with Ruffin, he charged at the officer.
“The officer ordered the subject to stop and continued to retreat while attempting to deploy his taser,” Chief Domagalski said. “The subject continued to chase the officer, forcing the officer to transition to his firearm and discharge his firearm at the subject.”
The state’s Department of Justice said the officer’s attempts to tase Ruffin were unsuccessful before the officer resorted to using his firearm.
“I understand the impact and the trauma these events have on the community,” Chief Domagalski said. “I’m hopeful that we can be patient and work through it together.”
Ruffin’s family said he suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Ruffin’s aunt Kerwana Clayborn said Sheboygan police were aware of his mental illness. She claims officers were inside his home for an incident just a couple days ago, less than a block away from where he was killed.
“He could have been shot in the leg, in the arm, in the shoulder, in the foot where he would have been capacitated,” Clayborn said.
Sheboygan’s police department confirmed its officers have body cameras. However, police supervisors have yet to share whether the camera on the officer involved in the shooting was recording at the time.