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Family and community speak out against Tallahassee police killing of Mychael Johnson

By Zachary Schultz |
April 7, 2020
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Mychael Johnson.

Tallahassee, FL - On March 20, Tallahassee Police Department Officer Zackri Jones killed 31-year-old Mychael Johnson. Mychael Johnson was the second person shot and killed by Jones, and the first since Lawrence Revell became chief of police in January. Revell’s nomination in November and his later appointment led to protests due to his killing of George Williams, a Black teenager, in September 1996.

The Tallahassee Police Department has issued statements claiming that Johnson had attempted to steal a car and had fought with Officer Justin Davidson before being shot and killed by Jones. However, the family is questioning whether the police have told the full story.

“Mychael was fun, loving, intelligent, he was a giver, and a protector, he was a son, brother, father, and a great friend to have known,” Johnson’s sister Mildred Richardson said. “I think that there is way more to the story that we aren’t getting and the small details that we have received just doesn’t sound like him at all, it’s just not sitting well and adding up with the family.”

The family is also questioning whether the police were justified in using deadly force.

“What I think happened is that he was afraid, he wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, but he didn’t want to go back and have to spend time in a broken prison system,” said Mychael Johnson’s mother Evelyn Johnson. “I feel like he was running for his life because he was scared. It’s sad that I reached out to his probation officer, the police office, the Apalachee center, and the Leon county sheriff’s department, before this point. And the only thing that they assisted with was taking his life.”

The Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) has criticized the lack of transparency from TPD. They organized community members to call into police and city officials on March 25 to ask for the release of body cam or dash footage and for an independent investigation led by the community.

“We can’t let the police investigate themselves, as we see time and time again that the police never have a transparent process,” said TCAC President Regina Joseph. “We need an independent investigation for this case, and every case from now. That is why we are fighting for community control of the police. We need an elected body that will investigate all police crimes and bring peace and justice to our community.”

“I want people to know what type of person that he was, I don’t want his name to go in vain,” said Mildred Richardson. She continued, “And I also want people to be more aware of the police violence against the Black community, and that if we all stick together so many things can be accomplished.”

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