In honor of every black and brown life taken by the American police force. Five dollars was donated to protest bailout funds and black organizations for each young man I painted.
Wikipedia is the source for the details of each murder that follows.
Sean Bell was shot in New York City, in the borough of Queens on November 25, 2006. Three men were shot when a total of 50 rounds were fired by New York City police (NYPD) in both plainclothes and undercover. Bell was killed on the morning before his wedding, and two of his friends, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, were severely wounded. The incident sparked fierce criticism of the New York City Police Department from members of the public and drew comparisons to the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo. Three of the five detectives involved in the shooting went to trial on charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter, first- and second-degree assault, and second-degree reckless endangerment; they were found not guilty.
On the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, United States, George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American high school student. Zimmerman, a 28-year-old man of mixed race, was the neighborhood watch coordinator for his gated community where Martin was visiting his relatives at the time of the shooting. Zimmerman shot Martin, who was unarmed, during a physical altercation between the two. Zimmerman, injured during the encounter, claimed self-defense in the confrontation.
In a widely reported trial, Zimmerman was charged with murder for Martin’s death, but acquitted at trial after claiming self-defense. The incident was reviewed by the Department of Justice for potential civil rights violations, but no additional charges were filed, citing insufficient evidence.
In the late evening of March 18, 2018, Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old African-American man, was shot and killed in Meadowview, Sacramento, California by Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, two officers of the Sacramento Police Department in the backyard of his grandmother’s house while he had a phone in his hand. The encounter was filmed by police video cameras and by a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department helicopter which was involved in observing Clark, on the ground and in directing ground officers to the point at which the shooting took place. The officers stated that they shot Clark, firing 20 rounds, believing that he had pointed a gun at them. Police found only a cell phone on him. While the Sacramento County Coroner’s autopsy report concluded that Clark was shot seven times, including three shots to the right side of the back, the pathologist hired by the Clark family stated that Clark was shot eight times, including six times in the back.
On November 22, 2014, Tamir Rice, a 12-year old African-American boy, was killed in Cleveland, Ohio by Timothy Loehmann, a 26-year-old police officer. Rice was carrying a replica toy Airsoft gun; Loehmann shot him almost immediately after arriving on the scene.
Two officers, Loehmann and 46-year-old Frank Garmback, were responding to a police dispatch call regarding a male who “keeps pulling a gun out of his pants and pointing it at people”. A caller reported that a male was pointing “a pistol” at random people at the Cudell Recreation Center, a park in the City of Cleveland’s Public Works Department. At the beginning of the call and again in the middle, he says of the pistol “it’s probably fake”. Toward the end of the two-minute call, the caller states that “he is probably a juvenile”; however, this information was not relayed to officers Loehmann or Garmback on the initial dispatch. The officers reported that upon their arrival, they both continuously yelled “show me your hands” through the open patrol car window. Loehmann further claimed that instead of showing his hands, it appeared as if Rice was trying to draw: “I knew it was a gun and I knew it was coming out”. In response, the officer shot twice, hitting Rice once in the torso. He died the following day.
Rice’s gun was later found to be an airsoft replica that lacked the orange-tipped barrel, which would have indicated it was a toy gun.
On September 14, 2013, Jonathan Ferrell, a 24-year-old former college football player for the Florida A&M University Rattlers, was shot and killed by police officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick in Charlotte, North Carolina. Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter.
Ferrell, an African American, was unarmed at the time he was shot. He crashed his car, went to a house in the Bradfield Farms neighborhood and knocked on the door. The resident, Sarah McCartney, called the police and three officers came. Ferrell then ran towards them, whereupon one of the officers fired a taser at Ferrell and missed. Kerrick then opened fire on Ferrell, shooting him twelve times and killing him.
A toxicology test of Ferrell’s blood showed he was not illegally intoxicated.
Oscar Grant III was a 22-year-old African-American man who was killed in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009 by BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California. Responding to reports of a fight on a crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit train returning from San Francisco, BART Police officers detained Grant and several other passengers on the platform at the Fruitvale BART Station. BART officer Anthony Pirone kneed Grant in the head and forced the unarmed Grant to lie face down on the platform. While Pirone held Grant down in a prone position, Mehserle drew his pistol and shot Grant in the back. Grant was rushed to Highland Hospital in Oakland and pronounced dead later that day. The events were captured on multiple official and private digital video and privately owned cell phone cameras. Owners disseminated their footage to media outlets and to various websites where it went viral. Both peaceful and violent protests took place in the following days.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. White police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while handcuffed face down in the street, begging for his life and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe”. A second and third officer further restrained Floyd while a fourth officer prevented bystanders from intervening. During the final three minutes Floyd was motionless and had no pulse but the officers ignored onlookers’ pleas that Chauvin remove his knee from Floyd’s neck, which he did not do until medics told him to.
All four officers were fired the next day after videos made by witnesses and security cameras became public. Two autopsies found Floyd’s death to be a homicide. Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, to which was later added second-degree murder; the other three officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. The FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are both investigating the incident.
On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown Jr., an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by 28-year-old white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the city of Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. Brown was accompanied by his 22-year-old friend Dorian Johnson.
Wilson said that an altercation ensued when Brown attacked Wilson in his police vehicle for control of Wilson’s gun until it was fired. Johnson stated that Wilson initiated a confrontation by grabbing Brown by the neck through his car window, threatening him and then shooting at him. At this point, both Wilson and Johnson state that Brown and Johnson fled, with Wilson pursuing Brown shortly thereafter. Wilson stated that Brown stopped and charged him after a short pursuit. Johnson contradicted this account, stating that Brown turned around with his hands raised after Wilson shot at his back. According to Johnson, Wilson then shot Brown multiple times until Brown fell to the ground.
In the entire altercation, Wilson fired a total of twelve bullets, including twice during the struggle in the car; the last was probably the fatal shot. Brown was hit six times, all from the front.
On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile, a 32-year-old African American man, was fatally shot during a traffic stop by Jeronimo Yanez, a 28-year-old Hispanic-American police officer from St. Anthony, Minnesota.
Castile was driving with his partner Diamond Reynolds and her four-year-old daughter when at 9:00 p.m. their vehicle was pulled over by Yanez and another officer in Falcon Heights, a suburb of Saint Paul, Minnesota. After being asked for his license and registration, Castile told Officer Yanez that he had a firearm (Castile was licensed to carry) to which Yanez replied, “Don’t reach for it then”, and Castile said “I’m, I, I was reaching for…” Yanez said “Don’t pull it out”, Castile replied “I’m not pulling it out”, and Reynolds said “He’s not…” Yanez repeated “Don’t pull it out” and then shot at Castile at close range seven times, hitting him five times. Castile died at 9:37 p.m. at Hennepin County Medical Center, about 20 minutes after being shot.
The shooting of John Crawford III occurred on August 5, 2014. Crawford was a 22-year-old African-American man shot and killed by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams, in a Walmart store in Beavercreek, Ohio, near Dayton, while holding a BB gun.
A grand jury declined to indict the two officers on criminal charges. Crawford’s killing led to protests, including some organized by the NAACP and Black Lives Matter movements. Dayton NAACP President Derrick Foward calls upon the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the case. The Dayton Unit NAACP organized a meeting with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown along with Dayton Unit NAACP 3rd VP Tom Roberts, State Representative Roland Winburn, State Representative Fred Strahorn, Montgomery County Recorder Willis Blackshear, Pastor William Schooler, Pastor P.E. Henderson, Pastor Corey Cunningham and Michelle Roberts, to discuss the John Crawford III case.Dayton NAACP President Derrick Foward Seeks Support from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown
Lawsuits for negligence and wrongful death were filed against both Walmart and Beavercreek. On May 13, 2020, the city of Beavercreek announced it would pay $1.7 million to settle wrongful death claims by the Crawford estate and family.
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in the New York City borough of Staten Island after Daniel Pantaleo, a New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer, put him in a chokehold while arresting him. Video footage of the incident generated widespread national attention and raised questions about the appropriate use of force by law enforcement.
NYPD officers approached Garner on July 17 on suspicion of selling single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. After Garner told the police that he was tired of being harassed and that he was not selling cigarettes, the officers attempted to arrest Garner. When Pantaleo placed his hands on Garner, Garner pulled his arms away. Pantaleo then placed his arm around Garner’s neck and wrestled him to the ground. With multiple officers pinning him down, Garner repeated the words “I can’t breathe” 11 times while lying face down on the sidewalk. After Garner lost consciousness, officers turned him onto his side to ease his breathing. Garner remained lying on the sidewalk for seven minutes while the officers waited for an ambulance to arrive. Garner was pronounced dead at an area hospital approximately one hour later.
The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide. According to the medical examiner’s definition, a homicide is a death caused by the intentional actions of another person or persons; the use of the term does not necessarily mean that a crime was committed. Specifically, an autopsy indicated that Garner’s death resulted from “[compression] of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police”. Asthma and heart disease, asthma and diabetes, as well as obesity were cited as contributing factors.
In the early hours of February 4, 1999, a 23-year-old Guinean immigrant named Amadou Diallo (born September 2, 1975) was shot and killed by four New York City Police Department plain-clothed officers—Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon, and Kenneth Boss. Carroll would later claim to have mistaken him for a rape suspect from one year earlier, though his claim was never confirmed by any objective evidence. The officers fired a combined total of 41 shots, 19 of which struck Diallo, outside his apartment at 1157 Wheeler Avenue in the Soundview section of the Bronx.
The four officers, who were part of the now-defunct Street Crimes Unit, were charged with second-degree murder and acquitted at trial in Albany, New York. Diallo was unarmed and a firestorm of controversy erupted after the event, as the circumstances of the shooting prompted outrage both inside and outside of New York. Issues such as police brutality, racial profiling, and contagious shooting were central to the ensuing controversy.
On September 16, 2016, Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old motorist, was shot and killed by police officer Betty Jo Shelby in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was unarmed during the encounter, in which he was standing near his vehicle in the middle of a street.
The shooting led to protests in Tulsa. On September 22, the Tulsa County District Attorney charged Shelby with first-degree manslaughter after the shooting was labeled a homicide. On May 17, 2017, a jury found her not guilty of first-degree manslaughter.
On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Marquez Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old African-American man, was fatally shot near Brunswick in Glynn County, Georgia, while jogging on Holmes Road just before the intersection with Satilla Drive in the Satilla Shores neighborhood. Arbery had been pursued and confronted by two white residents, Travis McMichael and his father Gregory, who were armed and driving a pickup truck. The event was recorded on video by a third Satilla Shores resident, William “Roddie” Bryan, who was following Arbery in a second vehicle. The death and events following the investigation have sparked debates about the lack of racial equality, and have been reported internationally.
The murder of Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old high school student, happened on Friday, November 23, 2012, at a Gate Petroleum gas station in Jacksonville, Florida, United States by Michael David Dunn, a 45-year-old software developer, following an argument over loud music played by Davis and his three friends. Dunn was convicted on three counts of attempted second-degree murder for firing at three other teenagers who were with Davis and one count of firing into a vehicle. The jury could not reach a verdict about whether to convict Dunn for the murder of Jordan Davis at the first trial. In a second trial, Dunn was found guilty of the first-degree murder of Jordan Davis.
On April 4, 2015, Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed in North Charleston, South Carolina by Michael Slager, a white North Charleston police officer. Slager had stopped Scott for a non-functioning brake light. Slager was charged with murder after a video surfaced showing him shooting Scott from behind while Scott was fleeing, which contradicted Slager’s report of the incident. The race difference led many to believe that the shooting was racially motivated, generating a widespread controversy.
On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot dead at close range by two white Baton Rouge Police Department officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The officers were attempting to control Sterling’s arms, and Sterling was shot by them after reportedly reaching for the loaded .38 caliber handgun in his pocket. Police were responding to a report that a man in a red shirt was selling CDs and that he had used a gun to threaten a man outside a convenience store. The owner of the store where the shooting occurred said that Sterling had started carrying a gun a few days prior to the event as other CD vendors had been robbed recently. He also said that Sterling was “not the one causing trouble” during the situation that led to the police being called. The shooting was recorded by multiple bystanders.
On April 29, 2017, Jordan Edwards, a 15-year-old African American boy, was fatally shot by police officer Roy Oliver in Balch Springs, Texas, within the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. He was shot in the back of the head while riding in the front passenger’s seat of a vehicle driving away from officers that attempted to stop it. He was unarmed during the encounter.
Oliver was fired from the department and arrested on May 5, 2017. On August 28, 2018, he was found guilty of murder. On August 29, 2018, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.