Cover Photo: Still from security camera footage of police attacking Malcolm Johnson
By Serran Soledad
Last week, new cell phone and security camera footage surfaced depicting the moment Malcolm Johnson, a 31-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by an unnamed Kansas City police officer at a gas station this past March. The footage contradicted police claims that Johnson shot at them, and depicted a bumbling police force who executed Johnson in cold blood.
In response to the footage’s release, protesters held a march to the front steps of the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) headquarters last Friday. Community members, along with the families of local police brutality victims, took to the streets to demand justice and accountability from law enforcement for the continued murder of Black people in Kansas City, and across the country.
Marching roughly two and a half miles with banners and signs, the crowd chanted the names of the those killed by Kansas City police in recent years, including Ryan Stokes in 2013, Travis Griffin in 2018, and now Malcolm Johnson. Once arriving at the headquarters, posters with photos of the victims were laid against a police officer memorial statue. Protesters remained into the night, promising to return each week.
It was on March 25, that Malcolm Johnson was profiled as the suspect in a domestic violence investigation, with police claiming he was “resisting arrest”, which they used as justification for the brutality they inflicted on Johnson.
The cell-phone footage, recorded by gas station workers, begins as a group of police officers dog pile Johnson inside of a local gas station, while he struggles against their heavy use of force. The gas station workers can be heard narrating the video as they film, calling Johnson a “regular customer” and “family.”
Forty four seconds into the video, an officer can be heard yelling “shoot him”, before another is struck in the leg by a bullet. An officer then proceeds to open fire, shooting and killing Johnson as he lay on the floor. According to the Kansas City Star, a local bourgeois news outlet, Johnson’s family has obtained autopsy photos that show he was shot in the back of the head.
The investigation fell within the chain of command of the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP), who quickly confiscated security footage from the scene, choosing to ignore the cell phone video.
It was most recent footage that provided the public a clearer view of Johnson’s execution, as well as the brutality of the officers involved. At a press conference, Khadijah Hardaway, a family representative of Johnson stated, “You look at that video, and you see the lack of mobility, ability to move around and squirm– You would say it was impossible for him to have grabbed any type of weapon, even if it was on him.”
As of Thursday, MSHP’s investigation has been concluded, and is now awaiting release to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office who will rule on the case. At the press conference Johnson’s family expressed feelings of pessimism that officers would be held accountable by the ruling class’s legal system.
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