“This Was an Execution”: Community Demands Justice for Malcolm Johnson

Brynn Fitzsimmons

7/10/2021- Kansas City, Missouri

Troy Robertson and others hold signs at an event for Malcolm Johnson at Mill Creek Park, Kansas City, Missouri on June 12.

Photo by Andrei Stoica

The demands for justice for Malcolm Johnson continue in Kansas City, Missouri with activists planning to hold an event on Johnson’s birthday, August 14. The event will be held near 63rd and Prospect where Johnson was killed by a KCPD officer on March 25, 2021. The investigation from the Missouri Highway Patrol was sent to the Jackson County Prosecutor at the end of June. The prosecutor’s office has not yet released a decision on whether it will charge any officers involved in the incident, and no date for a decision has been announced at this time.

On Saturday, June 12, protesters, community members and friends of Malcolm Johnson gathered in Mill Creek Park to demand justice in Johnson’s case. The protest came just a few days after the Missouri Highway Patrol announced they had finished their investigation of the police killing of Malcolm Johnson and had turned the case over to state investigators. Johnson was fatally shot by KCPD officers on March 25 during an arrest related to an aggravated assault case.

Per early media reports, KCPD reported that two officers had tried to arrest Johnson, had pulled a gun on the officers, and had shot one of them in the leg.

Since the release of several videos of the incident, however, numerous community members have pointed out at press conferences and via social media that, as Sheryl Ferguson of It’s Time 4 Justice pointed out in her voiceover of the cellphone recorded video of the incident, “The officer started shooting and immediately recoiled her arm at the same time that the other officer screamed ‘God damn it.’ The cop shot the cop, and then they shot Malcolm in the head two times. And then the Missouri State Highway Patrol substantiated the Kansas City Police Department’s lie. This was an execution.”

Protesters—including Troy Robertson of Team HONK—spoke of Johnson’s case as connected to the cases of other local victims of police shootings, including Donnie Sanders, Ryan Stokes, Terrance Bridges and Cameron Lamb.

Kymberly Davidson, who attended the June 12 protest and said she is a friend of the family, said she met Johnson last 4th of July, when they were at a family gathering and took turns watching the kids.

“Malcolm was a cool guy,” she said. “He was a good father. He was a good friend.”

She described the fear that Johnson’s killing has caused for his children, and said the children are afraid of being shot by police, too. “You have another child without a father,” she said.

She said she found out about Johnson’s death from the family on the same night it happened. “The story I was hearing was not the same story in the media,” she said, noting that early media reports described a “shootout” between Johnson and police.

“Come to find out, that was not the case,” Davidson said. She described seeing the videos released since Johnson’s death, which show shots being fired while Johnson is face down on the ground, with several officers on top of him. “Why does it take four officers to shoot him twice in the back of the head?” Davidson said.

“This is not an open and shut case,” said Pastor Darron Edwards during a June 3 press conference from faith leaders, who received three videos from the community of the incident, all of which appeared to contradict KCPD’s initial reports on the incident. “Let me tell you, Kansas City, when I look at the video? It looks like one officer shot another officer, then shot the victim twice in the head. The police can clear this up for me by telling us what really happened. We say we want Kansas City to be a safe city in every zip code, and we believe in policing—I want this on the record—but we don’t believe in this kind of policing in Kansas City.”

He also questioned why officers are still allowed to return to work while the investigation is ongoing. He said faith leaders turned over video they had received to Highway Patrol, “so that it can be included, not in an open and shut case, but in an ongoing investigation.”

Dr. Emanuel Cleaver III reiterated that while faith leaders are not anti-police, but also said, “There is a clear problem in Kansas City—it’s an ongoing problem. And that’s that there is an ongoing disconnect between police and the community, in particular, Black and brown communities. The question should be asked: why weren’t the videos handed over to law enforcement? Why were the videos handed over to us? And the question can be answered easily: it is because the community does not trust police,” he said. “We have to start with the top and work our way down. That’s the only way we’re going to really bring about change.”

“Kansas City, this is a moment for change,” Edwards said. “A change is going to come. This is what we believe.”

The “Justice for Malcolm” event will be held at 6 p.m. on August 14, starting at Troost Ave. and Meyer Blvd. and will include a march to the BP station on 63rd and Prospect.

Published on: 7/10/2021