The Road to Justice has Many Paths for Families of Violence and Police Brutality
Three Paths; Three Families … (Part One)
By: George Addison
There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a large segment of people in that society who feel that they have no stake in it, who feel that they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society protect that society, but when they don’t have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.
Nearly every day you see the proliferation of black men and women being assaulted or killed on the morning and evening news. It’s beginning to feel more and more like a roundup in some western or slave narrative. What does it take for a black person to safely go out each day and return home without being beaten or killed?
The Bureau of Justice defines a police killing as a case where a person dies as a result of being chased, beaten, arrested, restrained, shot, pepper sprayed, tasered, or otherwise harmed by police officers, whether on-duty or off-duty, intentionally or accidentally. A victim was defined as Unarmed in the database if they were one or more of the following:
- not holding any objects or weapons when killed
- holding household/personal items that were not used to attack others (cellphone, video game controller, cane, etc.)
- holding a toy weapon (BB gun, pellet gun, air rifle, toy sword)
- an innocent bystander or hostage killed
- a pedestrian or motorist accidentally hit by a police car or passengers in a vehicle chased by police with no weapon on them
- drivers or passengers accidentally hit by a police car
- a person who dies in police custody after a police use of force or police neglect of their medical needs
- alleged to be armed by the police, but multiple independent witnesses maintain the person was unarmed, video evidence shows that the person was unarmed, and/or circumstances indicate it was physically impossible for that person to be armed (i.e. claiming a person shot themselves with their own gun while handcuffed and under surveillance in police custody after being searched for weapons)
Sometimes victims don’t die but they survive with injuries like Antwynette Houston of Kentucky. They can die mysteriously like Keith Warren of Maryland, or are killed like Darrius Stewart of Tennessee, killed like Christopher Kalonji, or held in prison like his brother Joseph Kalonji both from Oregon. All because it is perceived that they were armed or resisting arrest which often turns out to be untrue.
(Story includes graphic video material)
On July 31, 1986 at the age of 19, Keith W. Warren was found hanging from a tree not far from his family’s home. His sister Sherri Warren and their late mother Mary Couey have spent a combined 30 years examining the questionable circumstances surrounding the investigation into his death.
Police have ruled the death a suicide, despite numerous subsequent investigations. Sherri and family members believe Keith was killed; her quest is to hopefully prove her brother was murdered and to have his death reclassified.
Sherri Warren believes the key to successfully finding justice on behalf of her brother and mother is to never give up the fight, she says others would do well to
Warren describes her brother as someone who was loyal, quiet and a people person and his behavior leading up to his last hours was uncharacteristic. She encourages people to visit TheKeithWarrenJusticesite.com so they can review the compelling array of facts, documentation and video outlining how Keith’s investigation was mishandled by police.remember this during
their journey, she added, “Never give up … if within your heart you know something is not right. If you know that something just doesn’t fit correctly then don’t give up because that’s how they win. That’s what they want you to do, is to give up.”
Warren said, when talking to others about the case or encouraging those going through a similar loss, her mother’s words often come to mind, “Your issue is not my issue, however if you continue to ignore my issue one day my issue my become your issue”. Her mother spoke these words in 1986…
Warren said her mother was consistently disregarded, ignored, and disrespected by both the #DOJ , #FBI and National/local law enforcement when she questioned them about their investigation into the death of her only son #KeithWarren until her sudden and unexpected death in 2009.
When I asked her how she is coping with the case thus far, she said, “it’s traumatic when someone dies anyway, but to not know why they’re dead is a hundred times worse. I don’t know for a fact if I will ever find out what happened to Keith because of everything the lead detective did to keep the information from getting out properly. But, I realized that you have to grow and learn that somethings are not in our power, and we need to take control over what is in our power.”
Keith’s death also prompted Unsolved Mysteries to do a segment to further profile the case. They highlighted a number of inconsistencies such as;
- The police said they needed to cut down the tree for evidence, but this seemed strange since they had already closed the case. Keith’s mother no longer trusted the police or their explanations.
- Then came April 9, 1992, her son’s birthday Mary found a plain manila envelope at her doorstep. The contents included five pictures inside the envelope. Each showed a different view of Keith hanging by his neck, Mary found a glaring discrepancy:
- “His clothing didn’t fit him. He was wearing somebody else’s clothing. But the real eye-catcher was that he was wearing white sneakers.”
- It was her son in the photographs, but whose clothes was he wearing? Whose white tennis shoes, and why was he wearing them? The only items of clothing the police returned to the family were Keith’s jacket and brown boots. Neither was shown in the photographs, although authorities said that they had been found near Keith’s body.
- Mary hired private investigator, Joe Alercia:
- “The police department conceded that they were copies of original police photos, but they had no idea where they came from, none whatsoever. They were questioned numerous times.”
- Joe Alercia examined the pictures; he noticed leaves on the back of Keith’s shirt. To Alercia, this suggested Keith had been lying on the ground and was hoisted into a hanging position by someone else. Alercia said that his theory was bolstered by the complex path of the rope found at the scene: READ MORE.
Sherri Warren says she had to take the emotion out of her efforts to find the justice her family desires. She stated, “When using the legal system and the information people have given me, it helps to take emotions out of it to keep things moving forward. You’ve got to because the judicial system deals with facts only.
When you have a situation that’s emotional and you put your feelings into it, things tend to cloud your objective, which is to get justice for your love ones and I had to learn that.” Warren said she made the typical rounds for help to organizations like the NAACP, the ACLU, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and others. To date she has still not received a response from any of them.
Warren further said that she doesn’t care what critics say about her because she is trying to expose the truth. She adds, “At this particular time in my life I want people to understand that I don’t care what they think. There’s no large platform or celebrity speaking on my family’s behalf. I don’t have that support, but things reveal themselves in time. I just have to be patient.”
SOURCE: Keith Warren
NOTE: Many of the families fighting for justice are in need of legal assistance, housing, volunteers, advocates and financial resources. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Contact these families via twitter to learn how you can help @justiceforkeith, @nook71715, @IrenesCircle, @AntwynetteH. Perhaps the ACLU, the National Minority Bar Association, the Black Lawyers Association and American Bar Association can create a national strategy to help take the legal burden off these families as we deal with this epidemic of violence and police brutality nationwide.