Metro-East News

Review of Collinsville student’s death not yet complete, police say

Students, parents react to death of Collinsville High freshman

In this BND file video from Sept. 22, 2016, freshman Tray Turner's death shocked and saddened students at Collinsville High School. Tray fell in a stairwell at the school on Sept. 19, 2016, and suffered severe head injuries.
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In this BND file video from Sept. 22, 2016, freshman Tray Turner's death shocked and saddened students at Collinsville High School. Tray fell in a stairwell at the school on Sept. 19, 2016, and suffered severe head injuries.

Collinsville Police say they’ve not yet completed their review of the death of a 14-year-old boy who fell on stairs at Collinsville High School.

Police say that’s one reason they can’t yet release their reports on the death of Tray Turner.

Collinsville Police earlier this week denied a Freedom of Information request made by the News-Democrat seeking reports connected to the investigation of Turner’s death.

Turner was injured in a fall on stairs at the high school during lunch time on Sept. 19. He died on Sept. 22 at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.

Shawna Robinson, who is the Collinsville Police Department designee for handling records requests, wrote in an email reply to the News-Democrat that the request was being denied because the case is “currently under investigation” and that “releasing this would interfere with pending law enforcement proceeding being conducted by our agency.”

The denial also states: “The report is also involving juvenile offenders that were under investigation and the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 mandates reports to be held in full.”

Police have termed what happened to Turner as a “tragic accident.”

Collinsville Police Major Brett Boerm said the investigator handling the case is completing his work.

“The investigator who was assigned to the case, who’s done multiple interviews during the week, is compiling his case notes and reports,” said Maj. Brett Boerm. “Those reports will be turned over to the St. Clair State’s Attorney’s Office and they will be the ones reviewing charges or to see if charges are warranted.”

When reviewing a death, it is not unusual for police to submit their reports to prosecutors for additional review.

The News-Democrat also has filed a Freedom of Information request with Collinsville Community School District Unit 10, seeking all reports and correspondence any school district officials had in connection with Turner’s fall. As of Thursday afternoon, the school district had not provided a response, although the deadline prescribed in the open-records law had not yet been reached.

“Our attorney is reviewing that right now,” Superintendent Robert Green said. “We’re not sure what we can release. As soon as he gives us an answer, you’ll get one.”

State law requires that a public body must respond to a FOIA request within five business days after the public body receives the request. The News-Democrat made its requests of the police and the school district on Tuesday.

The Collinsville community rallied behind Turner’s family as the boy fought for his life in Cardinal Glennon. Kahok Strong, a student organization based at the high school that helps families throughout the district, took the lead in helping collect funds for Turner’s family. When Turner was in the hospital, the group gave his family money and acted as the main fundraiser for the family. Other area schools, including Granite City High School and Father McGivney Catholic High School in Glen Carbon, made monetary donations to Kahok Strong.

The death cast a pall over the school’s homecoming week festivities, but the game with Granite City a day after his death turned into a celebration of Turner’s life. Friends and family members of Turner’s wore white T-shirts with #TeamTray on the front. Students also remembered their classmate by painting their faces with #TeamTray. Granite City fans who attended the game even wore some purple, Collinsville’s primary school color, in honor of Turner.

Don O'Brien: 618-239-2626, @DOBrienBND

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