Georgia Police open fire on Black teens—allegedly for running Stop Sign

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[Georgia Racial Policing]
News4Ajax: "The younger children previously told News4Jax that as they ran off, bullets 'whizzed by' them. GBI investigators said in a news release that they have no evidence to indicate Rowell fired shots at or near the younger children who ran home."
Photo: YouTube

At least one police officer in Waycross, Georgia recently opened fired on a car full of Black teenages--for allegedly running a stop sign.

Two teenage brothers were arrested on gun charges and other counts after a Waycross police officer attempting a traffic stop fired multiple gunshots at their car, according to investigators.

The shooting is under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and is drawing national criticism by the NAACP and former presidential candidate Kamala Harris who called the shooting “horrifying and inexcusable.”

A 16-year-old boy and his brother -- Kamar Boyd, 15 -- were two minutes away from home with several younger siblings in their car when Waycross Police Officer Jesse Shook began to follow the teenagers because they ran a stop sign and Shook was attempting to get the license plate information, according to the GBI. The GBI later stated the officer never activated his siren or blue emergency lights.

According to the GBI, the 16-year-old stopped the car at the intersection of Walters and Greenwood streets, yards away from the kids’ front door. The teens’ younger siblings, all younger than 14, ran out of the car in the direction of their home.

Boyd, who was in the passenger seat, said he was concerned about what the police might do and that their siblings could get hurt. “I know how these folks [are]. He already had the gun out before we even had a chance to stop the car,” said Boyd. “I’m like, ‘My brothers and sisters are in the car. I got to get them out.”

According to the GBI, a second officer responded to assist while the first officer followed the three minors who ran from the car. At this point, according to information from investigators, the teens were only being followed because they had allegedly run a stop sign.

According to the GBI, the second officer -- Lt. Scott Rowell -- approached the vehicle from the front, when the teens’ vehicle drove toward him. Boyd denies this claim.

Investigators said the officer fired multiple times at the vehicle and that the two teenagers got out of the car while it was still in drive. Neither was hit by a bullet, but video taken of the car shows bullet holes in the side of the vehicle.

The younger children previously told News4Jax that as they ran off, bullets “whizzed by” them. GBI investigators said in a news release that they have no evidence to indicate Rowell fired shots at or near the younger children who ran home.

“We [were] driving off slowly to get away so he could follow us, and not my little brothers and sisters. Next thing you know, he was firing at the gas tank and it went rolling that way,” said Boyd. “We got out right here and put our hands up and he steady saying, ‘if y’all don’t get on the ground, we will shoot.‘

“He told me, ‘Put your hands up,’ so I put my hands up,” Boyd said. “Then next thing you know, he came and hit me in my eye with the gun, and then the other officer came up and tased me on my back.”

Read the rest of this New4Jax story here: https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2020/08/10/teens-arrested-on-gun-cha...

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) released this update statement on this case:

On Saturday, August 8, 2020, the GBI was requested by the Waycross Police Department to investigate an officer involved shooting.

Preliminary information indicates that on Saturday, August 8, 2020, at approximately 8:00 a.m, an officer with the Waycross Police Department observed a traffic violation at the intersection of Howe and Brunell Street. The officer attempted to obtain the license plate information. As the vehicle approached the area of Walters and Greenwood Street, three minors (ages 9, 12, and 14) exited the vehicle and ran off while the vehicle stopped.

A second officer responded to assist while the first officer followed the three minors in his vehicle. As the second officer began to approach the vehicle from the front, the vehicle drove towards him. The officer fired multiple times at the vehicle. Two male minors (ages 15 and 16) exited the vehicle while it was still in drive. The vehicle came to a stop further up the road. There was an altercation between the second officer and the 15-year-old male that had exited the vehicle. The minor was eventually secured in handcuffs. He was treated by EMS for minor injuries from the altercation.

The first responding officer came back to the initial scene of the traffic stop after hearing gunshots. The three minors went home. No officers were injured during the incident.

The GBI then amended their statement with this:

Additional information obtained in this investigation indicates that the first officer followed the vehicle for several minutes in an attempt to obtain the license plate information following a traffic violation (failure to stop at a stop sign). The officer did not activate his siren or blue emergency lights.

As the vehicle approached the area of Walters and Greenwood Streets, three children (ages 9, 12, and 14) exited the vehicle and ran off while the vehicle stopped in the direction of their home. Although the officer followed the three children, he did not make contact with the children because he returned to the scene of the traffic stop to assist the second officer.

At this time, there is no evidence to indicate that the second officer that fired the shots at the vehicle driving towards him shot at or near the three children that ran home.

Juvenile criminal complaints were taken on the 15-year-old and 16-year-old driver. The 15-year-old was released to his parent. The 16-year-old was placed in the custody of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. They were charged by the Waycross Police Department as follows:

16-Year Old Driver

  • Possession of a handgun by Person Under 18
  • Reckless Driving
  • Stop Sign Violation
  • Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer
  • Driving with No Driver’s License

15-Year Old Passenger

  • Possession of a handgun by Person Under 18
  • Obstruction of an officer
  • Removal or Attempt to Remove Firearm from an Officer

At this time, agents have only been allowed to interview one of the children that ran home. We have made several attempts to interview the other two, but have not been granted an interview.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the GBI at (912) 389-4103. There is no video (bodycam or dashcam) capturing this incident. If you have knowledge of video taken by witnesses, we encourage that information as well. This investigation remains active and ongoing.

The Color of Change organization released the following statement:

On Saturday, August 8, Waycross police officers Jesse Shook and Lt. Scott Rowell followed a car full of Black children home and shot at them — all because the 16-year-old driver allegedly ran a stop sign.

The 16-year-old was driving his four younger siblings and a friend home before heading to a football game. Waycross Police Officer Jesse Shook began following the car after the driver allegedly ran a stop sign. Instead of turning on his sirens, lights, or simply pulling the car over, Officer Shook followed the kids home. Scared and confused, the driver stopped the car at an intersection near their home and told the children in the backseat — his 9-year-old brother, 12-year-old sister, and a 14-year-old friend— to run home to get their father.

That’s when a second officer, Lt. Scott Rowell, arrived at the scene and opened fire on the car and the children. Thankfully, neither the children nor anyone in the neighborhood was hit by the bullets. But according to a witness, another one of the children, a 15-year-old, was later pistol-whipped by the police.

The police officers’ reckless and racist decision to follow and open fire on a group of Black kids is reprehensible. Officers Shook and Lt. Rowell are now on paid leave, and an investigation is ongoing. But it doesn’t take an investigation to know this: Both officers must be held accountable for their actions.

Tell Waycross Mayor Michael-Angelo James: Cops who shoot at Black children and terrorize Black neighborhoods must be removed from the force. Fire these officers immediately.

This is not the first time Lt. Scott Rowell has been a part of an officer-involved shooting. In 2013, the GBI investigated Rowell's involvement in the murder of Jack Lamar Roberson. Responding to a call for emergency medical assistance, Rowell and two other police officers showed up. Instead of de-escalating the situation or providing the medical assistance Roberson clearly needed, Rowell and his fellow officers shot and killed Roberson in front of his mother and his fianceé. Both women confirmed Roberson was unarmed.

Six years after the murder of Jack Lamar Roberson, Lt. Rowell responded to another non-violent situation with unnecessary use of force against a Black family. He fired a gun at a group of Black children, in their neighborhood, in front of their father. We must hold Lt. Rowell and Officer Shook accountable for their actions.

That's why we’re calling on Mayor James to break this dangerous cycle and fire Lt. Rowell and Officer Shook for terrorizing and shooting at Black children in South Georgia last week.

Color of Change petition on this matter can be found here: https://act.colorofchange.org/sign/stop-shooting-our-children-waycross-ga/

 

 

 

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