Nearly 25 friends and family of Victorville slain resident Rasheed Jones, 28, wept openly during a press conference at Lucy Florence Coffeehouse in Leimert Park Friday to protest Jones’ fatal shooting by Victorville sheriff’s deputies.
According to relatives, police were summoned by an anonymous call to a parking lot in Victorville on the evening of July 8 when an argument broke out between Jones and his girlfriend.
After arriving at the parking lot at 10:30 p.m., police allege that Jones began running and jumped a chain link fence. Police assert that Jones was carrying a handgun.
According to police, when Jones turned the handgun toward the deputy, the deputy opened fire and struck Jones multiple times.
“My son was not on probation or parole. He was a law abiding citizen who ran because he was running away from the sheriffs’ car,” said Jones’ mother, Trina Griffith.
Family members dispute the sheriffs’ report of the incident and have faxed letters demanding an investigation into Jones’ death to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Victorville officials.
A sheriff’s spokeswoman denied that the shooting was race-related and said that any agency is welcome to investigate.
“We are outraged, we are angry, we are hurting, we are sick and tired of our young African American males being gunned down by sheriffs (deputies) in San Bernardino County,” said Eddie Jones, president of the Los Angeles Civil Rights Association, who is representing the family.
“This is a clear case showing that we are not being respected by law enforcement in San Bernardino County,” said community activist Lita Herron. “Why was Jones shot in the back? It seems as if the attitude (among Victorville sheriffs) is to shoot and kill.”
On the morning of July 9, Griffith said that she received an early morning call from a witness who wanted to remain anonymous, informing her that her son had been shot and killed by sheriffs. “This witness said that when the sheriffs came, they tried to run my son down with their car and that’s what caused Rasheed to run. The witness said she saw the sheriff shoot him in the leg, arm, torso and his back,” said Griffith. “My son did not have a gun, but he did have a cell phone,” she said, adding that after her son’s death, the cell phone was never found.
Griffith said that after her son was shot, the witness said they saw sheriffs “pull him by his hair” and then physically reposition his body. Griffith said that according to the witness, the sheriffs then allegedly went to Jones’ home and ransacked his house.
“No one called me from the sheriffs’ office after my son was killed,” said a tearful Griffith. “Two days later, I got a call from a homicide detective saying that he was returning my call, but I never called him.”
Griffith said that her son, the father of four children, had moved to Victorville six years ago to find a peaceful place to raise his family. “But Rasheed said that the police in Victorville were prejudiced and he didn’t like the way they talked to him–he said they were very condescending. He said that they would always stop him at stop lights and check his registration and identification.”
Pausing, Griffith continued, “I know that there is a climate of prejudice in Victorville. I always had a nagging fear that they were going to hurt my baby.”
Griffith said that the day after the shooting, her daughter, Theresa Daniels, visited the shooting site to try to obtain more information about her brother’s death. “My daughter went to a furniture store across the street from where my son was shot. Witnesses said that bullets had lodged in the furniture and shattered the window of the store,” said Griffith, but that when her daughter inquired about the furniture, a furniture store employee said that the furniture had been removed from the store.
Weeping, Griffith said, “They are killing our babies and getting away with it. I want justice for this hate crime that these officers are perpetrating. I want to see an internal affairs investigation and I want to see the murder of my son brought to justice to the fullest extent of the law.”