Quanice Hayes is a name you should know. He is a 17-year-old who was shot and killed by Portland, Oregon police because they thought he had a gun — except it was a toy gun.
On February 9, 2017, Hayes was stopped by police after committing small-scale robberies while using a fake gun, according to Portland Mercury. Allegedly, he stole a jacket, CDs and an EBT card. While Hayes was following police orders to get on the ground, he reached for the front of his jeans, which were reportedly sagging. An officer named Andrew Hearst “shot Hayes three times with a semiautomatic rifle,” reported the newspaper. “In grand jury testimony, Hearst said he believed Hayes was reaching for a gun. Hayes was hit twice in the torso and once in the head. Only after Hearst shot Hayes did officers find the toy guy next to his body.” Of course, a grand jury declined to indict Hearst.
Yesterday, Hayes’ family filed federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Portland and Officer Hearst.
According to Portland Mercury, Quanice’s mother Venus Hayes and his uncle Steven Hayes are alleging “the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) has failed to train officers who are interacting with suspects they believe to be armed.” They are also using crowdfunding money to pay their legal fees. We truly hope this family gets justice.
Before anyone says, “Well, he was committing crimes,” there are countless white people who have waved guns in front of cops and they weren’t shot. In May 2014, Joseph Houseman in Michigan had an an armed standoff with police — not only was he not killed, he got his gun back. Police even asked him to put down his weapon so they could “talk.”
There are endless stories of police descalating situations when white people are threatening lives with a gun. However, police can’t even do the same when a Black person has a toy gun.