UPDATED: 10:00 a.m. ET, April 21, 2021
With the high-profile nature of Breonna Taylor‘s killing on March 13, 2020, she has all but come to symbolize police violence against Black women. But the truth is that the 26-year-old EMT who was killed in a hail of police bullets blindly fired into her home during the botched execution of a suspiciously obtained no-knock warrant is far from the only Black woman who has been victims of cops in instances of preventable violence.
And even though police brutality and police-involved shootings of countless unarmed Black people have gained national attention, Black women victims are sometimes lost in the sea of Black men who are killed.
That initially was the case for Taylor, worse home was incorrectly targeted for drugs in search of a man the Louisville Metro Police Department already had in custody. When her boyfriend suspected the unannounced cops were burglars, he legally fired his gun at the door. Police returned fire and shot them both, Taylor fatally.
As it turned out, the police targeted the wrong address and there were no drugs at the home. Still, the police charged Taylor’s boyfriend with attempted murder. None of the officers involved was required to wear body cameras.
On Tuesday as Black communities breathed a sigh of relief that George Floyd‘s murderer was found guilty on all accounts, Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old girl was killed at the hands of police in Columbus, Ohio. Police released dash cam footage of the treacherous shooting which showed police responding to a physical altercation outside of a Columbus home. Reports surfaced that Ma’Khia called the police to the residence because she was fearful of her safety.
Footage shows police approach the home as a group of young people standing in a driveway. The video appears to show Bryant as she pushes or swings at an individual who falls to the ground. Bryant then seems to swing a knife at a girl who is seated on the hood of a car. Police fire what sounds like four shots at Bryant, fatally striking her.
Bryant’s shooting comes in the wake of back-to-back excessive force shootings in Columbus resulting in the deaths of three men, Miles Jackson, Casey Goodson Jr., and Andre Hill. Her family launched a GoFundMe as an effort to raise funds for legal fees.
The last time something as reckless as this happened involving police killing a Black woman came back in October 2019 when an officer with the Fort Worth Police Department shot 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson in her own home. An officer responded to her home because a concerned neighbor requested a wellness check. Instead, he shot his gun through her bedroom window and killed her while she and her 8-year-old nephew were playing video games. Bodycam footage showed Jefferson was shot within four seconds of the officer arriving.
Amber Carr, Jefferson’s older sister, said, “She didn’t do anything wrong, but she’s inside of her home, trying to protect her home and my son that’s inside. She’s not a threat. She’s a college graduate.” Carr also added, “You want to see justice, but justice don’t bring my sister back.”
That followed last year’s shooting death of Pamela Turner, a 45-year-old unarmed grandmother who was battling a mental illness manic episode when an officer tried to arrest suburban Houston her for outstanding warrants that later were shown to have not even existed.
It has been proven time and time again that Black people are more likely to be victims of police violence, even when they are unarmed. And just as we become outraged by the deaths of Black men and boys at the hands of police, we must not forget that Black women and girls have also lost their lives in police shootings.
#SayHerName makes sure we do more to bring attention to the too many Black women and girls who probably would still be here if their skin color was different.
From Pamela Turner to Tyisha Miller to now, Breonna Taylor, below is a list of a growing number of Black women who have been killed by the police over the years.
1. Ma’Khia Bryant
Bryant was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio, on April 20, 2021. Her death occurred moments prior to the reading of the George Floyd verdict. Conflicting reports around her age surfaced until Bryant’s mother confirmed she was 16-years-old. Early reports also stated Bryant called the police for help.
2. Atatiana Jefferson
The 28-year-old was shot and killed on Saturday, Oct. 12 in her Fort Worth home after a neighbor called the police for a “wellness check” because her front door was reportedly open. Bodycam footage showed she was shot within four seconds of the officer arriving.
3. Pamela Turner
On May 13, 2019, Pamela Turner, a 45-year-old grandmother of three, was shot and killed in Baytown, Texas, after an officer tried to arrest her for reportedly having outstanding warrants. Disturbing video shows Turner’s last moments as she lay on the ground and yelled “I’m pregnant” before she was shot and killed. A family member said she had been battling mental illness.
4. Korryn Gaines
On Aug. 1, 2016, officers arrived at the apartment of Korryn Gaines in Randallstown, Maryland, to serve warrants for her and her fiance. A stand-off followed that ended with Gaines, 23, being shot dead by five bullets and her 5-year-old son being shot in the face. Gaines recorded the encounter on Facebook Live.
5. Yvette Smith
On Feb. 16, 2014, Yvette Smith, 47, was shot and killed by a Bastrop County, Texas, officer after she called 911 hoping to quell a dispute between two men. When Smith opened her door, the responding officer yelled “police” and shot her three seconds later.
6. Miriam Carey
On Oct. 3, 2013, Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist, was driving in Washington, D.C., with her 1-year-old when she reached a security checkpoint. Instead of stopping, she made a U-turn to go back the other way and police began to follow her. Carey ended up being shot several times, including in the back and in the head, while her daughter still in the car.
7. Shelley Frey
On Dec. 6, 2012, Shelley Frey was allegedly shoplifting at a Houston Walmart and store workers alerted an off-duty officer, who reportedly tried to confront Frey and her friend. Frey, 27, and her friends got into their car and attempted to leave and the officer shot at the car; two bullets hit Frey in the neck as she sat in the passenger seat.
8. Darnisha Harris
On Dec. 2, 2012, 16-year-old Darnisha Harris of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, hit a police vehicle that was responding to reports of a shooting in the area. She put her car in reverse, hit a parked car and a bystander, who was not seriously injured when she came to a stop in a nearby driveway. An officer then got out of his cruiser and fatally shot her.
9. Malissa Williams
Malissa Williams, 30, got into car with Timothy Russell on Nov. 29, 2012, when someone called Cleveland police claiming they were going to buy drugs. When Russell saw a vehicle following them, he sped up and dozens of police cars began to chase the pair through the city. More than 100 shots were fired into the car and one officer even stood on the hood of the car once it had come to a stop and fired 15 shots into the car. Williams suffered 24 shots in the head, neck, body and left arm.
10. Shantel Davis
On June 14, 2012, Shantel Davis, 23, was reportedly driving erratically through Brooklyn, New York, running several red lights until she crashed. Two plainclothes officers approached her and tried to prevent her from driving off. While one officer had his arm in her window, the car began to move and she was shot once in the chest. Davis got out of the car and said she did not want to die before she was pronounced dead at the hospital. No weapons were found in the car.
11. Rekia Boyd
On March 22, 2012, Rekia Boyd, 22, was walking with a group of friends in Chicago when an off-duty officer approached them to ask them to keep the noise down. After some words were exchanged, the group walked away. The officer looked back and claimed he saw a boy pull out a gun and began to shoot at the group. Boyd was shot in the back of the head. It turned out the gun the officer saw was actually a cellphone.
12. Aiyana Stanley-Jones
On May 16, 2010, seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was asleep in her bed when Detroit police raided her family’s apartment with a television camera crew looking for a murder suspect. Officers began shooting upon entrance and struck Jones who was sleeping on the couch.
13. Tarika Wilson
On Jan. 4, 2008 during a drug raid, Tarika Wilson was shot and killed while reportedly hiding behind a door. The officer, who blindly shot into the room, also hit Wilson’s one-year-old son that she was holding. He lost a finger during the incident. Wilson, 26, was not the intended target of the raid — it was actually her boyfriend.
14. Kathryn Johnston
On Nov. 21, 2006, 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston was alone in her Atlanta home when police executed a no-knock raid. Johnston fired one shot at the officers believing them to be intruders and she was then shot at 39 times, only being struck by five or six bullets. Officers, who raided her home on false pretenses, planted drugs in her home when they found no evidence of wrongdoing. The officers also went on to falsify documents and lie to their superiors about the incident.
15. Kendra James
On May 5, 2003, a Portland, Oregon police officer pulled over a car in which 21-year-old Kendra James was a passenger. The officer claimed James, a mother of two, had a warrant for failing to appear in court and detained the other two people in the car. Leaving her alone in the car, James allegedly climbed into the driver’s seat and tried to drive off. The officer, who was partially in the driver’s window, shot James claiming he thought she was going to drag him. After shooting her, he left her unattended instead of offering assistance before medical personnel arrived.
16. Tyisha Miller
On Dec. 28, 1998, Tyisha Miller, 19, was unconscious in her car with a gun in her lap at a Riverside, California, gas station. Her cousin and friend called the police but when the officers arrived they were not able to wake up Miller either. So they broke a window, which may have startled the teen. Police claimed she reached for a gun before they shot her 12 times.
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