Mayor and Police Shaken by Brutal Murder of Prospective Witness
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – The shooting death last week of 27 year old Bianca Horton has focused attention on one of the major problems police encounter as they investigate local violence.
And that is —the fear experienced by witnesses and family members if they cooperate.
The new Citizens Safety Coalition is playing a role.
Although there’s no proof that Bianca Horton was killed to keep her from testifying in the case of Cortez Sims, it once again pointed out that witnesses to crime are frequently no help to authorities because of fear.
Mayor Andy Berke was on News 12 this Morning with Joe Legge.
“Actually I knew Bianca, I knew her from what she went through being a victim of crime last year,” Mayor Berke said.
“She’s somebody who I got a chance to talk to a couple of times and see her family …and certainly it was personally very difficult to see what happened to her.”
Bianca’s infant daughter was paralyzed by a gunshot allegedly fired by Cortez Sims last fall. One person died and another wounded.
Bianca was set to be a witness at his upcoming trial—instead she was shot to death near Westside Drive.
“We have to create an environment where its safe for community residents to pursue the safety of family members to come forth and to testify as a witness,” Bishop Kevin Adams said.
Adams heads up the Citizens Safety Coalition. The group is raising money.
“The victim’s fund has been going, its called a go-fund set up to help Bianca and the four children to cover the funeral costs and to be an on-going fund in helping the kids.”
“What we want to do with this fund is to encourage people and make sure they know even in cases that are not as high profile as Bianca, and it was one of the most high profile incidents in our city over the last few years, that we want you to come forward ..that we encourage it,” said Berke.
Chattanooga doesn’t have a witness protection program like the Federal Government, but the mayor says police are offering protection to those who want to see justice done.
The Mayor also told our Joe Legge this morning that even without Bianca as a witness, she has done her part.
She gave testimony in juvenile court against Sims last year, and it can also be used at his murder trial.