Memphis resident Henry Williams can’t help but reflect on the last gift he bought his son.
Williams said he took him to the pawn shop and bought him a PlayStation 3.
“I was supposed to get him the joystick, but by the time I could do so, it was too late,” Williams said.
Memphis Police officer Connor Schilling shot and killed Williams’ son, Darrius Stewart, last July. He was the 28th person shot by police in Memphis since February 2012.
Stewart, who was 19-years-old when he died, was one of 1,186 people killed by the police in the United States in 2015, 161 of whom were unarmed, according to thinkprogress.org, a progressive blog on politics. As a result, police in the United States have been under fire in recent years for what many believe is an increase in excessive police brutality.
He also said he’s not optimistic the relationship will improve between African-Americans and police. Johnson said any change has to come from within the police officers themselves, starting with treating all African-Americans equally.
“This whole notion of picking and choosing, everyone gets caught up in that,” he said. “There’s no such thing as picking and choosing. As Malcolm X once famously said, I’m paraphrasing here, but ‘they beat you because you are black.’ So yes, it could change. However, the change needs to come from the police officers and how they police black bodies.”
Williams said more effective hiring practices will help.
“Protect and serve, not kill,” he said. “They need better training, check their background and put better people on the street.”
Kendrick Wilson, who is an African-American student at the University of Memphis, said he knows he isn’t alone when it comes to his fear and apprehension of law enforcement.
“After hearing about this young, unarmed kid from my own city being gunned down in broad daylight,” Wilson said. “It makes you mad and scares the hell outta you.”
Nevertheless, , Stewart’s family is still waiting on some resolution.
Video by Gabrielle Washington
Schilling shouldn’t have killed his son, Williams said. He could have called for back up and “he was nothing but a child.”
“I wish my son was still living but he was killed by someone who was suppose to protect him,” he said. “He should’ve been a man and arrested my son.”