LAPD beating victim sues city, community rallies in support (FCN, 08-03-2004)
LOS ANGELES (Finalcall.com) – On Feb. 16, under boiling community pressure, and one day after approximately 1,000 members of the Black community memorialized their own fallen hero at Bethel AME Church, the Los Angeles Police Department swiftly revised its vehicle firing policy after Officer Steven Garcia pounded 10 rounds through a car, killing 13-year-old Black youth Devin Brown.
The old LAPD policy, amended 5-0 by Police Commissioners, allowed that moving vehicles were a deadly threat and permitted them to fire. However, as of Feb. 16, officers are prohibited from firing, unless there is another deadly threat.
Family, neighbors and strangers filled Bethel’s sanctuary, lobby, balcony, parking lot, and spilled onto the sidewalks of Western Avenue, several blocks from the corner where Devin was riddled with bullets.
“Look at what this little brother’s life has done. It has brought together Christians, Muslims, Jews, Crips and Bloods. We can’t let this one go down in vain, family. We are going to be relentless in our pursuit of justice, starting with some housecleaning,” stated Nation of Islam Western Region Minister Tony Muhammad during his words of comfort.
Rev. Lewis Logan II, Bethel AME’s pastor, pointed to scripture as appropriate and universally comforting. “We’ve come to know that Brother Devin didn’t die in vain, planted like a seed in each and every heart, that out of it might grow the fruit of unity, love, peace, power, empowerment, self-love and self-determination.”
Members of Muhammad’s Mosque No. 27’s Jr. Fruit of Islam (F.O.I.) flanked Devin’s casket during the memorial, and served as pallbearers at his mother Evelyn Davis’ request.
In his 1990 Miami, Fla., “Stop the Killing” lecture, both prophetic and primed for L.A., Min. Farrakhan stated, “I know it’s terrible when a White police officer will take his flashlight and crush the skull of a Black person. We rise up and we picket. We raise sand in Miami. But every weekend, and through the week, we send each other to the morgue, hospitals and cemeteries and nobody says anything, because it is the norm in the Black community and we have begun to accept our murder of one another.”
At Min. Tony’s request, with their arms outstretched toward the Brown family, the people repeated a pledge to forge peace, love, better relationships, and to stop the killing.
Officiating Rev. Charlie Rushing addressed media and other attacks against Ms. Davis, blaming her for her child’s death. “She’s a good mom. We have to get away from this notion that, if any one of our children happens to make it out at 4 a.m. that they can’t make it home safely. What was he doing out at 4 a.m.? He was getting killed,” Rev. Rushing exclaimed.
The LAPD claims police suspected the car was stolen and stopped it, but Deputy Chief Earl Paysinger admitted in a radio interview that, at the time, it had not been reported stolen. LAPD said that, after leading them on a three mile, three-and-a-half minute police pursuit, Devin drew police fire when he backed the vehicle up, colliding with the police car. Before the shooting, 14-year-old Chad Richardson fled the car and was arrested moments later.
Black residents are still angry over both the district attorney’s decision not to prosecute officers in the beating of Black motorist Stanley Miller, and a jury’s combined multi-million dollar award to two officers involved in the beating of Black youth Donovan Jackson.
Under Rev. Logan, Min. Tony and Pastor William Smart, they have formed the Community Call to Action and Accountability, vowing that Devin’s death would not be in vain. Right after Devin’s killing, the coalition began meeting every Tuesday night at Bethel, even on the night of his burial. The group is calling on others for action.
“We’re asking that every organization not come to Los Angeles for your convention, because L.A. is an unsafe place to do business.” So far, the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Urban League have cancelled conferences that were slated for L.A., Min. Tony informed.