“Some people are happy,” Daunte Wright was deadly shot by police, lawyers say in a threat to their families


New York Times

One high school, five students were deadly shot

Knoxville, Tennessee — Killings happened one after another. On a cold night in late January, a high school football player was found unconscious and bleeding from a single gunshot wound. Two weeks later, a 16-year-old student was killed after authorities said it could have been a stray bullet. Four days later, the co-captain of the dance team was shot dead. In early March, a 15-year-old boy who last attended class in the fall died of a gunshot wound. And last week, Anthony Thompson Jr., 17, was shot dead by a police officer in a short brawl in a small bathroom on the same campus, becoming the fifth student to die from gun violence at Austin East Magnet High School this year. It was. Thompson’s shooting, which said authorities signing up for a morning newsletter from the New York Times fired a pistol and hit a trash can in the bathroom shortly before being killed, was a series of violence between African Americans and law enforcement officers. Officers who have repeated conflicts. But it also aroused too familiar anguish in the community, where residents said they were involved in a gun violence epidemic surrounding young people. “These kids have lost their lives for no reason,” said 21-year-old Chiara Taylor, whose brother Justin (soccer player) was killed after authorities described it as an accidental shooting. .. “Knowing that another child died makes it harder to get out of the house every day.” Several shootings arrested a 14-year-old teenager. Officials said the confrontation with Thompson had escalated because Thompson was armed. In an unstable video recorded by a police officer’s body camera, the police officer picks up a gun and sees one shot. A classmate, fixed to the tile floor by another police officer, sees the exuding blood and shouts. Help me! Autopsy showed that Thompson was stabbed in the heart and lungs by a single bullet. After continued community pressure, the shootings released here by prosecutors this week unfolded during the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was recently convicted of killing George Floyd. It was. But here, much of the community’s anger at Thompson’s death is rooted in the widespread fear that a climate of violence is woven into the lives of young people. Knoxville, a lush hill town on the Tennessee River, is home to about 188,000 inhabitants and killed 37 murders last year, one of the city’s most deadly years in modern history. I recorded it. The city council recently approved a $ 1 million proposal to fund a program aimed at stopping gun violence. “I think the city is upset,” said General Charm Allen, a lawyer in the Knox County district. “I think the death of five high school students is obviously something wrong. That’s unacceptable.” At a recent community talent show, a girl learned a dance from TikTok with a classmate. I showed it with a T-shirt to commemorate. In the protest, they sat in the hood of a friend’s car, chanting “The Problem of Black Youth” and singing to rapper Lil Baby’s song from the speakers. “They are angry,” said Jacqueline Muhammad, whose 15-year-old daughter Janaria was co-captain of the school’s dance team, about her child’s friends and classmates. “They are hurt. They are tired. And I hope no one else needs to be injured.” Austin East is an art magnet school with about 640 students. Most of them are black. This reflects not only the pride of the East Knoxville community, but its struggle. Residents say the streets surrounding the school are dotted with overgrown land and abandoned storefronts. The school attracts students primarily from the East Knoxville area, which residents describe as community anchors. Students and parents like to brag about their dance and arts programs. But they also complain about the lack of outdated textbooks and counselors. And in a community of increasing crime in recent years, Muhammad said students were familiar with deadly violence long before the recent deadly shootings. Schools in Knox County refused to comment on the shooting, but authorities said counseling and other services were available. As the killings continued, the anger and sadness of the community increased. Justin Taylor was killed on January 27 after police found him in a car at a ministry center with a gunshot wound. A 17-year-old boy was charged with manslaughter for his death. On February 12, police said Stanley Freeman, Jr., 16, was fatally injured on his way home by car. According to officials, a 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy face a single murder charge. Four days later, Janaria Muhammad became unconscious with a gunshot wound. Jamarion Gillette, who said he hadn’t attended school since September, was hit deadly on March 9, officials said. The country saw the Chauvin trial. It was also in the midst of a turmoil in Chicago over the release of body camera footage showing the shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who threw a pistol behind a fence before being killed by police officers. It happened days before the shootings of other young people across the country, including Makia Bryant, 16, who seemed to be attacking another girl, wielding a knife when killed by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio. It was. , And a deadly attack on a 7-year-old girl shot in a drive-through lane car at a McDonald’s restaurant in Chicago. Knoxville prosecutor Allen initially resisted a call from activists, local elected officials, and even Knoxville police chief to release body camera footage of Thompson’s shootings. However, at a two-hour Wednesday press conference, Allen used 911 phone calls, text messages, and footage from school guards and body cameras to elaborate on both the shooting and what caused it. She said she would not pursue criminal accusations against police officers, citing what she said as his rational fear of fatal danger to himself and other police officers. She said police were first called after the battle between Thompson and his girlfriend. The girl’s mother, Regina Perkins, told police that Thompson pushed her daughter and pulled her hair. In an interview with Knoxville News Sentinel, Perkins said he regrets calling the police. “Sorry, I didn’t mean anything to him,” she said. “He was a good boy, had dreams and goals, but had some hardships.” Thompson was caught walking around the campus with a school security camera talking on his cell phone. , I went to the bathroom. After the police arrived at the school, school resource officers took them to the bathroom. Allen slowed down the body camera footage and pointed the gun in Thompson’s Parker pocket. She later noticed a hole in the cloth she said came from shooting his gun. Knoxville Mayor India Kincannon said in a statement Wednesday that he was “relieved” by the shared footage. “This information is essential for transparency, but it’s not easy to see,” she said. However, a lawyer representing Thompson’s family argued that Thompson’s death should have been avoided. “If the suspect is colored, there is no attempt to make the situation worse,” said Ben Crump, a prominent civil rights lawyer hired by many families killed by police, including the Floyd family. .. In a statement after he was held by Thompson’s family. “Police shoot first and ask questions many times later, because black life isn’t very valuable.” Last week, Thompson’s name appeared on a poster and was chanted at the demonstration. Was added to. A collection of young people killed by shooting. Recently, dozens of people gathered in a park down the street from Austin East, and the family shared the story of their lost relatives. Justin Taylor’s sister, Chiara Taylor, called her brother an “entrepreneur” and regularly got up early to mow the lawn. “He was very ambitious,” she said. “It’s very important to me that it’s alive, that people know about him, and that people know he was a good student. Austin East isn’t full of bad kids. The group followed a winding road through East Knoxville, raised a flag and wore a shirt to commemorate the murdered people. They passed the house with a sign proclaiming the pride of the school. “Pray for AE to be stronger,” said one. Sinan Randy, 36, jumped into a school song with a voice chorus joining her. “I’m glad I went to AE,” they sang. “I’m right, I’m very happy to go to AE,” “Austin East gives hope,” Randy later said. “It’s family friendly. It’s home. It’s love. It’s dedication. It’s pride. I’ve been able to continue many times. It’s a special place. It’s a safe haven — they’re about it. After all. “That was the case for her 2003 class graduate. Randy could see the same for his daughter Shanya Cherry, a 15-year-old 9th grade dance program recently elected Miss Freshman. “I still love my school,” said the teenager, adding that she and her friends have overcome their pain and have relied on each other in the last few months. Her sister, Anya Mitchell, 9 years old, piped. She said she heard her sister asking her mother about a school police officer. Anya, who shared her father with Janaria Muhammad, began crying, explaining her fear of encountering someone with a gun. “You don’t want it to happen to you,” she said. Shanya reached out and wiped the tears from her sister’s face. This article was originally published in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

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