As many of you already know, George Floyd, an unarmed, cooperative, black man was killed by four police officers on May 25, 2020. These officers obstructed Floyd’s breathing for nearly nine minutes until he passed away. Recently, there has been a significant amount of protests against the officers, and numerous calls for justice to be served in the form of charging those involved with this murder.
While yesterday, Floyd’s killer was properly charged with second-degree murder, the fight against systematic racism is still as prevalent and important as ever. George Floyd was unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to violence against unarmed black individuals at the hands of white cops.
Below are the stories of eight black individuals who were killed at the hands of white cops, who still have not been granted justice. It is important to note here that the stories below are exemplary and not exhaustive. There is no way for us to know the full extent of policy brutality or race-based crimes because they are rarely talked about. Our fight for equality is for the stories we know, as much as it is for those we don’t.
When you read about the individuals below, challenge yourself to think about what life would be like if you were them. If you were their parent, teacher, sibling, best friend, coworker, etc. Humanize them how they deserve to be humanized. Mourn their loss. Know their names. Know their stories.
Keith Childress jr.
Meet Keith Childress Jr. He was shot and killed by the police on New Years Eve in 2015. He was only 23 years old. Police claim that a tip had told them that Childress was wanted for attempted murder in Arizona, and that he had fled to Las Vegas to avoid sentencing. When police found him in Vegas, in the middle of a private neighborhood, he was shot five times by Sgt. Robert Bohanon and Officer Blake Walford of the Las Vegas Police Department in broad daylight. Video of the moments leading up to the shooting can be seen on the officers body cam, but as a warning it is disturbing and may trigger some viewers, and therefore, is not included here. However, in this video, it is important to note that Childress is walking away from officers, and does not appear to point at them in any way. Officers held that they shot at Childress because they mistook the cell phone in his hand for a gun.
Take a moment here. I want you to look at your cell phone. Put it in your hand and really look at it. Does it resemble a weapon to you? Now imagine you had extensive knowledge about weapons, as one can expect of police officers. Would you identify your phone as a weapon, and the man holding it, walking slowly away from you, and not pointing it at you, as a threat?
The kicker here? After the police killed Childress, they released the K-9 unit onto his lifeless body, where the dogs tore up his backside. Even worse is that the charges of attempted murder against Childress, the whole reason the police were after him, was found to be false. But false information does not change the fact that Childress was murdered despite being unarmed and innocent. He left behind three children. No cops have been charged. Know his name. Know his story.
Meet Bettie Jones. She was shot and killed by the police on December 26, 2015 by Chicago Police Officer, Robert Rialmo. Jones lived in an apartment complex with her neighbor, Quintonio LeGrier. The day she was killed, her neighbor, Mr. LeGrier, was having a domestic altercation with his nineteen year old son, Quintonio. Mr. LeGrier had called the police for assistance, called Jones asking her to let the police into his apartment once they arrived, and barricaded himself in his room to avoid his son.
When officer Robert Rialmo arrived, Jones went to let him into the apartment when she was shot. According to Rialmo, he had shot Jones accidentally while trying to shoot Quintonio, who was said to be charging at him with a bat. Rialmo ended up also shooting and killing Quintonio in this process. The kicker here? Rialmo did not attempt to render any aid to Jones, even though she was still breathing when shot in the chest. If that were not enough, the Chicago Police Department Superintendent, Eddie Johnson, said that Rialmo’s decision to shoot was within the department policy, and that Jone’s death was “tragic” but “nevertheless justified,” due to the threat imposed against Rialmo. Almost explicitly, Chicago police stated that the death of an innocent black woman was justified because an officer was scared.
Jones’ daughter, Latisha Jones, found her mother moments before she ultimately passed away. She testified that she feared Rialmo would shoot her too. Bettie Jones was an innocent, unarmed, black woman killed by the police officers sworn to protect her. No charges against the officer have been filed. Know her name. Know her story.
Meet Felix Kumi. He was 61 years old, walking to pick up his vehicle from a repair shop in Mount Vernon when he was shot twice by an undercover cop and was killed. This undercover cop is referred to as
Undercover 113, due to the belief that sharing his name would be dangerous due to his past work. Undercover 113 was acting as a part of a gun-buy bust when another man, pointed a gun at his head and began robbing him.
Undercover 113 waited until the robber was walking away from the scene to fire his own weapon. This fire did hit the robber, but it also struck Felix Kumi, an innocent man who was just walking to pick up his car. Undercover 113 states that he, “just didn’t want to die,” and that because of this, he fired his weapon. While having someone pull a gun on you and rob you is a legally permissible reason to fire your own weapon, this situation is a little different.
Undercover 113 waited for the robber to walk away, which essentially limits the immediate threat against his life which would allow for firing of a weapon. Additionally, it is extremely unfortunate that an officer which so much undercover experience and sensitive works was unable to aim at the correct subject. As a result, Kumi died an unarmed, innocent, black man. No charges have been filed against Undercover 113. Know his name. Know his story.
Meet Jonathan Sanders. He was only 39 when he was killed by Officer Kevin Herrington on July 8, 2015 in Stonewall, Mississippi. Sanders was out on his buggy, drawn by horses, on the night of July 8, 2015. He was wearing a light band, similar to one you would expect a bicyclist to wear. During this ride, cops appeared behind Sanders, trying to get him to pull over for expired registration stickers. In this, the horses became spooked by the blue and red flashing lights, and took off, knocking Sanders off the buggy. In this fall, Sanders light came off of his head, and he began chasing after his horses in order to regain control. Seeing Sanders take off, Officer Herrington chased after him, picked up the light headband, and wrapped it around Sanders’ neck. Herrington then yanked Sanders to the ground and placed him in a chokehold for nearly twenty minutes.
Witnesses say that during this time, Sanders never went after the officer. Instead, Sanders was placed with his face down to the ground and the officer had his hands around Sanders’ neck to apprehend him. During these twenty minutes, witnesses tried to tell the officer to let up on Sanders as he said twice, “I can’t breathe.” When it became clear that Sanders was unable to breathe, witnesses asked the officer to perform CPR, to which he denied.
When Herrington finally called for backup, Sanders had been in a chokehold for nearly half an hour. At this point, Herrington states that he believed he had, “put [Sanders] to sleep.” When medics finally arrived, they performed CRP incompetently, and shortly after had sat Sanders up. When they sat him up, blood flowed from his mouth and the medics were unable to find a pulse. Jonathan Sanders was an unarmed, innocent, black man who was brutally murdered by a police officer. Herrington was never charged for the murder of Jonathan Sanders. Know his name. Know his story.
Meet Kevin Higgenbotham. He was only 47 years old, seeking help from the police, when he was beaten into a coma on June 15, 2015 in Trenton, New Jersey. Higgenbotham had called police on June 15, 2015 to report what he believed to be a trespasser. However, Higgenbotham was experiencing a bipolar episode, and this trespasser was actually his cousin who lived with him. However, when the police arrived, they said that Higgenbotham appeared to be on drugs, and as such, was uncooperative.
Higgenbotham was beaten by police officers before he was taken to the hospital where he went into cardiac arrest, and subsequently fell into a coma. After a year, Higgenbotham passed away as he was unable to recover from the injuries he sustained from responding officers. Higgenbotham left behind a beautiful daughter and wife, both who are completely baffled at the fact that charges against the responding officers have yet to be filed.
Maybe even more disappointing is the difficulty attached to finding this story. When researching for this article, I had to do a deep dive in order to find out more information about what happened to Higgenbotham. Even then, the information found is very few, and very vague. However, one thing remains clear: Kevin Higgenbotham was an unarmed, innocent, black man who was killed by the police he called to help him. Know his name. Know his story.
Meet Samuel Harrell. He was thirty years old, serving an eight-year sentence for a nonviolent drug charge, when he was beaten to death by twenty guards in April of 2015 in Fishkill Correctional Facility in New York. Harrell was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2010 which often caused him to be confused and convinced of things that were not real. On April 21, 2015, Harrell began packing his bags around 8 P.M. as he was convinced that he was going to be released, despite having several years on his term left to serve.
Guards, in seeing this, alerted their supervisor, who told them to call the mental health nurse associated with the prison. When the guards did this, they were told to bring Harrell into the clinic. Instead, the guards decided to sound the emergency alarm, which is typically only used when guards feel their safety and lives are in jeopardy. Nearly 20 other guards showed up and began to handcuff Harrell.
However, this did not stop the guards, as they continuously kicked, punched, and beat Harrell around his head and body. Some of the guards even took Harrell and threw him down the stairwell of the facility. All of this trauma ended up killing Harrell. Harrell died of cardiac arrhythmia following physical trauma. None of the officers involved in his murder have been charged. Samuel Harrell was an unarmed, innocent, black man who was killed by the cops. Know his name. Know his story.
Meet DeOntre Dorsey. He was only 32 when he died due to injuries sustained when the Charles County police department tased him on March 1, 2015. Dorsey was driving alone in the afternoon of March 1, 2015, when he lost control of his car, hitting a tree in the median of the road. Witnesses say that Dorsey was, “flopping around like a fish,” which led officials to believe that Dorsey was having a seizure that caused him to lose control of his vehicle.
When Officer Michael Sokoloff reported to the scene, he thought that Dorsey was having a temper tantrum. As such, he yelled at Dorsey to put his hands behind his back. Dorsey, of course, failed to comply, and seemingly attempted to stand up. At this point, Sokoloff tasered him in the back and shocked him several times.
Dorsey was later placed in leg shackles and was unresponsive at the scene, had stopped moving, and had stopped breathing. CPR had to be administered before he arrived at the hospital. Nearly nine months later, Dorsey passed away, having been in a semi-vegetative state his entire stay. Dorsey was a father of four, and an unarmed, innocent, black man who was killed by the police. Know his name. Know his story.
Meet Lavall Hall. Hall was only 27 years old when he was shot four times by Miami Police Officers. Hall, who lived with his mother, Catherine Daniels, was schizophrenic and bipolar. On February 15, 2015, he woke up at 5:00 A.M. and started waving a broomstick and pacing the front of their house. Daniels told Hall to come inside, and when she did, he charged at her. Around five in the morning, she called the police.
Daniels states that when she called, and when officers Peter Ehrlich and Eddo Trimino arrived, she explained that her son was mentally ill, and having an episode. Officers were able to place Hall in handcuffs, but, Hall started to run away from officers when they tried to put him in the vehicle.
One officer tackled Hall, and tased him in order to get him to stop avoiding arrest. However, Hall pulled out the prongs of the taser and tried to start running again. At this point, Hall was shot four times. According to the officers, Hall had tried to attack them with the broomstick from the initial call, despite the fact that this broomstick was nowhere near where Hall’s body at the time of death. No cops have been charged for this murder despite the fact that Lavall Hall was an innocent, unarmed, black man. Know his name. Know his story.
Police brutality against black individuals does not happen in a vacuum. It is our job to recognize this violence, who it targets, and demand it stop. The war against racism will not end simply because we won one battle. It is our duty to help, stand up, be aware, and be vocal.
To assist with the Black Lives Matter Movement, please visit: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co.
To register to vote for the upcoming, November election and have your voice heard, please visit: https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote.
Together we become the change we want to see.
Stay active, aware, and vocal,