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THE INCOMPLETE STORIES OF #SAYHERNAME

Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old EMT who was killed when Louisville Metro police mistakenly entered her home in the middle of the night on a no-knock warrant, purportedly as part of a narcotics investigation. Although the LMPD claim they suspected a man involved in a drug ring was receiving drug packages at Breonna’s address, neither Breonna nor Kenneth were named in the search warrant. The suspect they were searching for had already been detained. Just before 1 a.m. on March 13, 2020 Breonna and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker were jolted from bed by a loud banging at the door of the apartment unit. Startled and fearing that their home was being broken into, the two asked who was banging on the door, but the police didn’t identify themselves. The door exploded open soon afterward; the police had used a battering ram to burst through. Walker, a licensed gun owner, fired one gunshot in self-defense and hit Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly in the thigh. The three named Louisville Metro police officers fired over 20 rounds, shooting Breonna 8 times and killing her in the hall of her apartment. Breonna was unarmed and had no criminal history, despite early news reports and initial efforts by the city to depict her as a “suspect.” No drugs were recovered from the apartment. The officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave. They have yet to be charged or prosecuted for her killing. 


Kathryn Johnston was 92 years old when undercover police shot and killed her in her home during a botched drug raid. When officers arrived unannounced at her home and attempted to enter, Johnston fired a shot in self-defense. It went through the screen door but it hit no one. In response, the police opened fire and released 39 bullets, several of which hit Johnston. Afterward, the three Atlanta police officers tried to cover up the fact that the incident was based on an inaccurate report of drug activity in Johnston’s home. One officer planted marijuana in Johnston’s house and cocaine in the evidence file. All three officers were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 5 to 10 years for conspiracy to violate civil rights resulting in death. Two of the officers were further charged with voluntary manslaughter and making false statements. The city of Atlanta paid a $4.8 million settlement to Johnston’s family.


Korryn Gaines- On August 1, 2016, Baltimore County police arrived at the Randallstown, Maryland apartment of 23-year-old Korryn Gaines to serve a warrant alleging that she had failed to appear in court. Gaines, who had miscarried twins as a consequence of improper treatment while being held in connection with a traffic stop, had received paperwork for the stop that did not provide the date on which she was expected to appear. A month prior to the day officers descended on her home, Gaines had visited the police station seeking clarification about her court date, only to be told that the officer who had issued the paperwork was unavailable. When Gaines noticed police attempting to force entry that day in August, she sat down in her living room with a legally owned firearm, and a 6-hour standoff ensued. Officer Royce Ruby, Jr. fired at Gaines from outside her apartment, then entered the apartment and shot Gaines three more times. One of the bullets passed through Gaines and wounded her young son, who survived but sustained lifelong disabling injuries. County prosecutors concluded that the killing of Gaines was justified, and Officer Ruby was not criminally charged.


Atatiana “Tay” Jefferson was 28-years-old when Fort Worth police shot and killed her. At the time she was murdered, Jefferson had been playing video games with her 8-year-old neighbor. Police came to her home after a neighbor called the non-emergency number to report that Jefferson’s front door had been left open. When police arrived, Jefferson went to the window to see who was outside her home. When Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean saw Jefferson’s silhouette in the window, he shot and killed her. Dean was later arrested and indicted for murder. 


Tanisha Anderson 37 years old when she was killed on November 13, 2014 during an encounter with police as her family watched from their home. Growing up, Tanisha had excelled as a student, and aspired to become a broadcast journalist. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her 20s, and began taking medication. On a cold night in Cleveland, Tanisha became disoriented and repeatedly tried to leave the house without shoes and wearing only a nightgown. Her brother called the police for help, but instead of an ambulance, two sets of police officers arrived. What should have been a routine mental health call turned deadly when one of the arresting officers used a takedown move and kneeled on Tanisha’s back. Tanisha’s heart disease and bipolar disorder were factors that heightened her vulnerability to the police’s violent tactics. She arrived at the hospital in cardiopulmonary arrest and could not be revived. Her death was ruled a homicide, but a grand jury cleared Cleveland police officers Scott Aldridge and Bryan Myers of all wrongdoing. Shortly before Anderson passed, the U.S. Justice Department released a report that found that Cleveland police lack the proper training to navigate encounters with residents with mental illness. The report found that officers resort to using force against the mentally and medically unwell in lieu of de-escalation techniques.


Michelle Cusseaux was 50 years old when she was tragically murdered by the police in her own home in August 2014 when they came for a mental health wellness check. Under Arizona’s first responder law, multiple uniformed police officers arrived unannounced and with guns pulled. After Michelle refused to let the police in her home, Sergeant Percy Durpa pried open the locked security door, and was met with Michelle holding a hammer in her hands. Dupra claimed that he felt threatened, although no threats were made, shot her in the heart. Her mother and sister have explained that Michelle had the hammer, along with several other tools, with her in the living room because she was changing the locks in her home. When the paramedics arrived to take Michelle to the hospital they took her in for medical treatment at the hospital across town, instead of the one a few minutes away.


Charleena Lyles called the police to report an attempted burglary at her home. She was shot and killed by officers responding to her call, after officers said she displayed a knife upon their arrival to her home. She was three months pregnant with her fourth child when she was killed by Seattle Police on June 18, 2017. Charleena supposedly had a longstanding history of mental health problems. She was 30 years old. 


Pearlie Golden was killed by the Hearne police officers on May 7, 2014. Police officer Stephen Stem fatally shot Pearlie Golden, a 93-year-old woman, after her nephew called to report that she was waving a gun. Her nephew said that Golden was upset because he had taken her car keys after she failed a driving test. When Stem saw the elderly woman waving the gun around, he fired 4-5 rounds at her, hitting her at least twice. Four days later he was fired from the police department. A grand jury failed to indict him for Golden’s killing.


Kayla Moore,  a 41-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed by Berkeley police who came to her home in response to a call for help from her roommate on February 12, 2013. Her roommate had summoned police because Kayla was experiencing a mental health crisis. Instead of escorting Kayla to a medical facility as requested, the officers attempted to arrest her on a warrant for a man 20 years her senior, who had the same name she was given at birth. Several officers overpowered Kayla in her own bedroom, suffocating her to death in the process. Afterward, officers delayed monitoring her vital signs, referred to her using transgender slurs, and failed to administer adequate life-saving treatment. Kayla’s body was also exposed during and after the police assault. Her last words were “I can’t breathe.”


Duanna Johnson was a Black woman living in Memphis who had been turned away from jobs, drug treatment, and every shelter in the city because she was transgender. Johnson was profiled and arrested for prostitution as she walked down the street one night, even though there was no alleged client and no documented exchange of money for sex. Booking Officer Bridges McRae called her “faggot” and “he-she.” When she refused to answer to the slurs, McRae put on gloves, wrapped a pair of handcuffs around his knuckles and savagely beat her about the face and head while Officer James Swain held her down. McRae then pepper-sprayed her, pushed her to the floor and handcuffed her. Security video captured the entire incident.  McCrae was federally prosecuted, pled to a single count of violating Johnson’s civil rights after a mistrial, and sentenced to two years in prison for both John- son’s beating and tax evasion. Johnson was later found dead, shot execution style, the third Black transgender woman to be killed in Memphis in two years. Her killing remains unsolved.


India Kager was a 27-year-old Black woman, was shot and killed by Virginia Beach Police on September 5, 2015, while in a car with her 4-month-old son. Four officers fired 30 rounds in under 15 seconds into the car killing India and Angelo Perry, who was driving the car. Her baby, Roman, survived the shooting. Police officers had allegedly tailed Perry for several days believing him to be planning to commit a violent crime. India, a postal service worker and navy veteran, was not involved in any criminal activity. India had another son, Evan, who was four when he lost his mother. Since her daughter’s death, Gina has sought to raise awareness around police brutality. Gina describes her daughter as “a beautiful soul” who was “very supportive, contemplative, highly gifted and extremely articulate.” India attended Duke Ellington School of Arts in Washington DC, where she focused on visual arts. After her service attended art school in Virginia. She came from a family of police officers.


Aiyana Stanley-Jones was 7 years old when she was shot and killed by Detroit police. Officer Joseph Weekley shot and killed seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in her sleep during a raid on her grandmother’s home. Weekly claimed that he pulled the trigger accidentally during a struggle with the girl’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones. Jones claimed that she was reaching out to protect her granddaughter and