Standing next to a long table topped with flowers and photos of 37 deceased men and women, Kwame Osei Jr. addressed dozens of protesters last night. As he spoke against the backdrop of the Fort Worth Police & Firefighters Memorial in Trinity Park near West 7th Street, the protest organizer thanked the crowd for gathering that evening.
“I wish it was for happier circumstances,” he said. “There have been so many killed by [the Fort Worth police department]. The mayor doesn’t provide the tools that” our society needs to avert these deaths at the hands of police.
Since Mayor Betsy Price took office in 2011, 68 people have been killed by Fort Worth police, he said. Between 2014 and 2019, there were 17 fatal and 32 nonfatal police shootings in Fort Worth, according to the Star-Telegram. I was not able to independently verify the numbers presented by the protesters, but I have requested police shooting numbers from the City and will update the story accordingly. Protesters have stated that not all local police shootings (or cases where police neglect resulted in death) are reported.
After the crowd listened to a spoken word performance followed by the collective singing of “Amazing Grace,” Trena Miller addressed the crowd. She recounted the death of her son, Tre’Shun Miller, last year.
“Tre’Shun Miller was also a victim of abuse by the Arlington police department,” she said. “On March 8, 2017, he was unarmed and beat up by [someone with the] Arlington police department. In 2019, he was a passenger in a car and took off running. It was an unlawful stop that led to his shooting. He shot back, protecting himself. He was shot five times and was left to bleed out. The [first] responders did not render aid as he laid on the ground for 20 minutes. We were not informed of Tre’Shun’s death until after he died. The person who notified us of his death was the officer who beat him up in 2018. The Tarrant County [District Attorney] did not charge [any officers for Tre’Shun’s death]. We are trying to fight the negligent part of his dying. He lasted three and a half hours with gunshot wounds.”
The Tarrant County DA then sued Miller when she started releasing details of the case.
“I have a civil suit in Tarrant County right now for releasing information they gave me,” she said. “It’s law and order for us, but not for them. [Police] don’t follow laws, and they don’t have any order. They can do and say what they want.”
Letters from the district attorney’s office corroborate Miller’s statements. At issue, according to Miller and the letters that I read, was video footage released by the county.
“Yesterday, I offered to bring you a redacted copy of the video giving rise to this lawsuit,” an assistant criminal district attorney wrote last January. “You indicated that you wished to proceed in court.”
That the district attorney’s office would sue someone for information that the DA had freely released is ridiculous, Miller said. As part of the lawsuit, the mother has agreed to not re-publish the video.
Protesters spent the next hour tying 37 photos of victims to nearby trees. Flowers were placed near the photos. Relatives of victims of police shootings then stood near photos of their deceased loved ones so photos could be taken. The memorial can be viewed at 2301 West 7th Street indefinitely.