The families of three Black fathers murdered by police in one week in early December have all retained the services of civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who recently represented the families of Botham Jean and Atatiana Jefferson.
Cameron Lamb, 26, a father of three, was killed on Dec. 3, shot by police while he was in his car in his backyard in Kansas City, Mo.
Michael, Dean, 28, also a father of three, was shot in the head by Temple TX, police during a traffic stop on Dec. 2. He was shot once in the head after making a rolling stop at a stop sign. He was unarmed.
Demetrius Williams, 31 and a father of five, was shot on Dec. 5 in Marshall, TX, while SWAT agents were serving a narcotics search warrant at a nearby residence.
Another common denominator besides all three being young Black fathers, says Merritt, is the lack of police transparency and their failure to provide the families with much, if any substantial information about what occurred.
“I’ve been hired by three Black fathers murdered by police this week. …. The U.S. policing culture of brutality and incarceration is GENOCIDE. This is a human rights struggle,” wrote Merritt on his Twitter feed.
“I expect charges (against officers) in all three cases,” said Merritt in an interview with BET. “The reason I got involved with these three cases is that I think they are cases where the police force was completely unjustified.”
CAMERON LAMB – KANSAS CITY
The situation leading to Lamb’s murder began Tues., Dec. 3, when police officers noticed what they thought was a disturbance between two cars near 35th and College Avenue. A police helicopter tracked one of the vehicles, pulled behind a residence in the 4100 block of College.
Although details are not clear, it appears the officers approached Lamb, 26, and it’s not clear whether they identified themselves. Again, they were working undercover and wearing plain clothes. It appears Lamb pulled up a gun and pointed it at the officer, but it is unclear whether he knew the approaching man was an officer or whether he was just showing his “protection” as a way to put himself in a defensive position against the unknown individuals entering his back yard.
When he drew his gun, the officer shot him. A neighbor says at least four shots were fired.
“When I talked to the District Attorney, we agreed that the law enforcement officers had no right to enter Mr. Lamb’s property. There wasn’t an ongoing search,” said Merritt in an interview with BET. “Since we agreed there, we also agreed how Mr. Lamb was well within his rights to draw a firearm on plain-clothed, unmarked men coming to his place of residence and his business.”
Kansas City Police Department spokesman says while the men were in plain clothes, both had on police vests that had clear police markings on them.
“The only thing that we’re stuck on whether or not to indict these officers is whether – because Mr. Lamb did draw a weapon – they could claim self-defense,” Merritt continued.
According to Merritt, self-defense laws in Missouri have a clause that says you can’t use the self-defense laws if you created the danger, which you’re defending yourself against.
“So, I think, the obvious conclusion under the law is that these officers cannot claim self-defense when they violated the constitution and created the danger they were in in the first place,” wrote Merritt.
He says the District Attorney isn’t sure whether or not the officers can “renounce” themselves and she’s researching existing case law to get a better idea.
MORE TRANSPARENT INFORMATION
What would be helpful is more information provided by the Kansas City Police Department, but it hasn’t been forthcoming.
“We just want to know what happened,” Lamb’s family has repeatedly said to the press.
“We just want to know the truth,” Lamb’s sister Shelice Sheppar told Fox 4 KC.
FUNERAL COSTS COVERED
Kansas City native and former NBA player/coach Earl Watson and Grandview, Mo., native and NBA player Alec Burks have stepped in to pay funeral costs for the Lamb family, BET reported.
The two previously played together for the Utah Jazz. Burks now plays for the Golden State Warriors.
“It moved me because we’ve been seeing this across the country and to have it happen in your own backyard and it gets notoriety [in the media] it moved me because a lot of times you don’t hear about it, you just gotta get word of mouth in the community,” Watson told BET.
“So, I reached out to [attorney Lee Merritt] and let him know I’d like to try and help the family if possible and if they want my help,” Watson continued. “I left it up to [the family] to keep it private or to put me behind it just to get their story out more,” Watson said.
Lamb’s mother, Laurie Bey, said the family appreciated Watson’s generosity and support. “Everything is so overwhelming and we were just so grateful. There are just no words to express how grateful we are,” she told BET.
Watson lost his brother, a retired police officer, to a shooting during a family altercation in 2014.
“For me, I’ve seen and witnessed my mom cry for my brother being murdered and being shot and I don’t think you’ve ever heard a mother cry until you’ve heard her cry for the loss of losing a child,” Watson said.