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Group forms in response to police-involved shooting deaths, Nov. 19 march planned
Posted By Brandon Reid On November 16, 2012 @ 12:07 pm In Happening Now, Local News | 1 Comment
Online Staff Report
Justice for Our Children, a local group created in response to recent police-involved shooting deaths in Rockford, is planning a noon, Monday, Nov. 19, march in downtown Rockford.
The march will begin and end at Kingdom Authority International Ministry, 518 N. Court St., Rockford, the site of the Aug. 24, 2009, police-involved shooting death of unarmed 23-year-old African-American Mark Anthony Barmore.
Three African-American men have been shot and killed by Rockford police in separate incidents in 2012.
Phillip Johnson Jr., 29, was shot and killed by Rockford Police officer Amado Soria Jan. 28 after police responded to a 911 call of shots fired near the intersection of Fairview and East State Street.
Officers stopped a vehicle matching the description of the one involved in the 911 call in the 300 block of North Longwood. Johnson was a passenger in the vehicle, along with a female driver and another male occupant.
Police reportedly blocked the vehicle into a parking lot and approached the vehicle with guns drawn. The first two passengers then reportedly surrendered, leaving Johnson alone in the vehicle.
Johnson then allegedly leaned toward the passenger side of the vehicle, which is when Soria opened fire, killing Johnson.
Soria, an 18-year veteran of the force, was cleared of any wrongdoing after a grand jury found his use of deadly force to be justified.
Logan Bell, 18, was shot and killed by Rockford police Oct. 11 after police responded to a 911 call from a family member of Bell’s saying the teen was in possession of a handgun and was a danger to himself.
According to police, Bell prompted pursuing officers to shoot after he raised his gun.
Logan Bell, a relative of former Rockford Ald. Victory Bell, reportedly suffered from bipolar disorder.
The shooting remains under investigation by the Winnebago County Integrity Task Force, and the three officers involved in the shooting are on administrative leave, per department policy.
Demetrius Bennett, 31, was shot and killed by police Nov. 1 after police escorted Bennett’s wife, Amanda Armbruster, to their home at 1811 Montague St., at her request.
The incident began with a domestic dispute between Bennett and his wife. Armbruster had gone to the Winnebago County Justice Center shortly before 6 a.m., Nov. 1, to ask for assistance in retrieving her personal items from the home. When police arrived at the residence, Bennett answered the door and then reportedly went to pick up one of his two children. Police then asked Bennett to put the child down, and he eventually gave the child up. Armbruster then took both children out of the home.
According to Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato (D), Bennett then grabbed a knife and officers responded by spraying him with pepper spray. Bennett wiped the pepper spray from his face and then made a “move,” according to Bruscato. Four Rockford police officers then shot Bennett. The officers — Mark Danner, Ryan Marko, James Presley and Nolan Walker — are on administrative leave, per department policy.
Initial reports indicated Bennett used one of his children as a shield when he allegedly held a knife at officers, but that report has since been found to be false.
Investigation into the shooting death of Bennett will be conducted by the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor’s Office because of a conflict of interest within the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office. Deputy State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross has notified Bruscato that an aunt on her father’s side of the family is Bennett’s grandmother.
Following is a press release from Justice for Our Children (a 3-minute video from the group can be viewed by clicking here ):
Justice for our Children is a group of concerned citizens who are seeking to shed the national spotlight on the continued use of deadly force in police interventions involving African-American men.
In 2012 alone, Rockford Police Department has used deadly force toward Phillip Johnson (Jan. 28), Logan Bell (Oct. 11) and Demetrius Bennett (Nov. 1).
This community has experienced a number of police-involved shootings since 1992 with 13 of the 26 having been fatal shootings.
The City of Rockford Police previously garnered national attention after the police killing of an unarmed man, Mark Anthony Barmore (August 2009) in Kingdom Authority Church. This killing of an unarmed man led to an investigation by the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and a group of local leaders participated in a mediation committee convened to provide recommendations for future law enforcement interventions.
To date, little information has been made public. The concerned citizens bring you this message in the hopes the national and even global community will support us in creating a community in which men of color do not live under the constant threat of excessive and deadly force of the Rockford Police Department.
The community at large can support Justice for Our Children by:
1. Marching and rallying with us Monday, Nov. 19, at noon.
2. Having a national moment of silence to stand in solidarity with a community grieving from repeated use of deadly force.
3. Assisting us in creating and implementing policies that allow for the humane treatment of African-American men by the Rockford Police Department. Such policies should be consistent with current law enforcement best practices. Such policies should also be consistent with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recommendations.
4. Volunteering your talents to empower a community ruled by historically oppressive measures.
Posted Nov. 16, 2012
Article printed from The Rock River Times: http://rockrivertimes.com
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