Rabbi Michael Ben Yosef, founder of the Chicago Activist Coalition for Justice, also expressed his support for the Reed family at the prayer service.

CHICAGO—Members of the family of Dexter Reed Jr., supporters and community activists, gathered May 18 to participate in a prayer at the intersection of Ferdinand and Avers where Chicago police abruptly and violently took the 26-year-old Black man’s life.

The day of March 21 was devastating and life-changing for the Reed family when Dexter Reed Jr. was pulled over by a tactical team with the Chicago Police Department for reportedly not wearing a seatbelt. The brief encounter quickly turned fatal.

Within 41 seconds, 96 shots were fired by police. The Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) said Mr. Reed fired at police first. (See The Final Call, Vol. 43 No. 30)

According to media reports, the autopsy showed Mr. Reed was shot 13 times. COPA Chief Administrator Andrea Kerstenraised questions on the validity of the traffic stop, and questioned how officers could have seen Mr. Reed without a seatbelt through dark-tinted windows.


Activists still have questions and are demanding an independent investigation.

Community activist Carolyn Ruff organized the prayer gathering. “I have been working with the Reed family since the beginning of this ordeal. I am very, very close to them now. We want the details of what happened to Dexter to be out on the forefront. We do not want this story to be swept under the rug, and I am planning a community event at least once a month,” she said.

“We are here for you. We will stand with you in solidarity until we get justice for Dexter Reed Jr. This devastating tragedy is cause for immediate accountability and justice. We continue to wait for meaningful police reform legislation from our elected officials. We want police to be held accountable for their actions. Pass the George Floyd bill,” stated Ms. Ruff. 

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a federal bill drafted in 2021, was viewed by some as a comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement, empower communities, and build trust between law enforcement and communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives. Although the bill passed the House of Representatives, it failed in the Senate.

Reverend Chauncey D. Brown is senior pastor of Second Baptist Church of Maywood. He told those gathered at the prayer vigil, “Well, 96 shots in 41 seconds is incredibly aggressive.

It is unnecessary and ultimately it is not the first time, but it is my prayer that with activists and those in the community that will stand up and speak against police brutality, as well as questionable tactics of stopping citizens, this will be one of the last times that we experience a death, a murder at the hands of police.”

“We know that not all police officers are bad, we know that not all police are anti-community, but when we have a brother who was stopped for a routine traffic, for allegedly not wearing his seatbelt, although his windows were tinted, by this particular unit who had 41 complaints in three years, this is a problem,” continued Reverend Brown.

Alees Edwards serves as Chicago Police District Councilwoman for District 11. The council is an elected body that focuses on issues of policing and public safety and its members are elected by residents of their respective police districts.

“Myself and other volunteers went door to door after the incident with Dexter Reed Jr., and this community is traumatized. Just to hear 96 shots happened in such a small amount of time is a lot to take in. There is a desire for the Chicago Police Department to follow proper protocol.

Even if he shot at the police first, the moment he got out the car without a gun, he should have been given some instructions, some directions. He should have been on trial and not in the ground,” said Ms. Edwards.

The family of Dexter Reed Jr. filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Chicago and Chicago Police Department officers Alexandra Giampapa, Thomas Spanos, Victor Pacheco, Gregory Saint Louis and Aubrey Webb.

According to the lawsuit, “The officers involved in Reed’s death violated his civil rights and failed to follow the federally mandated consent decree when they targeted him during a predatory, violent and unlawful traffic stop that ended with the officers shooting at Mr. Reed 96 times in 41 seconds.”

Roosevelt R. Banks III is an uncle of Mr. Reed. “I am very deeply upset at this point because everything that shows on the Civilian Office of Police Accountability’s website justifies the officers murdering my nephew for no apparent reason.

When police officers’ lives are taken, it seems in the city of Chicago and across this country that there seems to be a difference in pain. The same pain that they feel for officers is the same pain for citizens of Chicago and across the country,” he said.

Selwyn Jones, an uncle of George Floyd, was also at the Chicago prayer gathering in support of the Reed family. “Once again, this is probably the 40th event that I have attended in the last four years. In six days it will be four years since my nephew was killed. Has things gotten better?

No. Are things going to get better? I sure hope so. I heard about today’s gathering, and I had to be here. We have to stick together, and we have to keep fighting together to make this change. No violence on the streets, no chaos. Let the lawyers do their jobs. We have to do our job. God bless the family.”

Rabbi Michael Ben Yosef, founder of the Chicago Activist Coalition for Justice, also expressed his support for the Reed family.

“My heart and soul bleeds for you; this is absolutely unacceptable. This intersection is what we call sacred ground, sacred ground where life was stolen; stolen by the institution. That means that everyone should be in these streets. We have a problem, and that problem is that we are hunted down like animals.” 

Shawntell Muhammad can be contacted at [email protected].