By Diane Bukowski, The Michigan Citizen, Feb. 4, 2008
DETROIT — Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has again refused to charge police officers in the death of a young Detroit man, according to a letter dated Jan. 22.
The family of Jevon Royall, 30, joins the families of Brandon Moore, 16, and Artrell Dickerson, 18, in protesting Worthy’s decisions.
Royall, a father and barber, was beaten and shot to death by two white police officers last July outside his home, near the site of the 1967 rebellion at 12th and Euclid. His family gathered there on Jan. 27 to read a letter from James Gonzalez, Worthy’s Chief of Special Operations, to Royall’s fiancée Kozetta Russell.
“I wish to inform you that we have reviewed all of the police reports, witness statements, medical examiner’s protocol, and all other relevant materials,” Gonzalez wrote. “The applicable laws were reviewed and a legal determination was made that criminal charges could not be filed since there is insufficient evidence that any crime was committed.”
In response to an inquiry, Assistant Prosecutor Maria Miller, press representative for Worthy, said Jan. 30 that, “We have recently re-opened the Jevon Royal investigation, based upon new evidence. We will not be able to comment about the matter at this time.”
However, Russell contacted Detective Cassandra Brown, the investigator assigned to the case, who said that the case has not been re-opened as far as she knows.
Royall’s mother Lenora Royall collapsed weeping as eyewitness Charlotte Washington recounted the events of July 7.
“Basically, they were beating my brother like they didn’t have any remorse,” said Washington. “They did everything in front of our faces, me and my niece’s father Demetrius and his mother. The people next door to us came out, and Kozetta came out, and we heard shots go off and my brother moan. Demetrius tried to talk to the officers, but they turned around with their guns and threatened us.”
According to Washington, on the day of the shooting, Royall got into the passenger seat of a friend’s car to go to the store. Two plainclothes police officers drove up and cut off the car from the front diagonally, so the squad car’s camera could not record events.
The officers demanded that Royall, not the driver, get out of the car. They later claimed they saw a gun on Royall’s side of the car, and that they thought the car was stolen, although it was not. They alleged that Royall also reached for one officer’s gun.
One officer allegedly sustained a “flesh wound” in the leg. The family said they knew that officer as “Pacman.”
Attorney Bill McHenry of Geoffrey Fieger’s law firm, which has filed suit on behalf of the family, said they still have not received police reports on the case.
An independent autopsy by famed forensic examiner Dr. Werner Spitz determined Royall was shot at least two times, and had been struck on the head by flashlights or batons.
Toxicology reports showed Royall had no alcohol or drugs in his system.
Ron Scott, of the Detroit Coalition against Police Brutality, Inc., said an internal source told him that there were no fingerprints on the gun police claimed belonged to Royall, and no gunpowder on his hand. Royall’s fiancée said she had never seen him with a gun in the five years they had been together.
Scott said the police officers never called for back-up as if they were in a dangerous situation. He added Worthy brought no charges in other fatal shootings by police in Detroit, Taylor and Westland.
The prosecutor must investigate all police killings, but Scott said Worthy basically rubber-stamps police department determinations. He said his organization plans a demonstration outside her office.
Royall’s uncle Garland Royall said the prosecutor’s office did not contact the family.
In September, the family of 16-year-old Brandon Martell Moore, shot in the back by three-time killer Detroit Police Officer Eugene Williams during Thanksgiving weekend, received a letter from Gonzalez which was almost identical to the Royall letter, saying no charges would be brought.
Moore was shot outside the National Wholesale Liquidators’ (NWL) store at the Bel-Air Mall on Eight Mile near Van Dyke.
NWL of Bel-Air, Inc. has since said in lawsuit discovery documents that Williams was working part-time for them as a “greeter” and “loss/risk manager” to ensure faster police response time in the event of thefts.
NWL, however, denied responsibility for Moore’s death, saying that Williams shot him outside the store, as part of his duties as a police officer. Moore and a group of friends, including his brother John, 21, all unarmed, had gone to the store, which has a policy of not allowing anyone under 17 to shop unaccompanied by an adult.
When the group broke up inside the store, Williams and Elester Jones, an employee of Mahoning Security Co., Inc., told the group to leave. They did so, but when they got outside, they realized they had left one friend in the store, and one member of the group tried to return to get him. Williams allegedly engaged in a tussle with the group, then shot Moore in the back, and 14-year-old Johnathan Stanley in the hand, as they ran from him.
The lawsuit filed in the case by Fieger’s firm is still in discovery proceedings.
“I just think Kym Worthy is full of crap myself,” said Artrell Harp, the father of 18-year-old Artrell Dickerson, killed by Detroit Police Officer Kata-Ante Taylor after the funeral of a friend outside Cantrell Funeral Home on Feb. 12 last year.
“She hasn’t prosecuted any cop for killing anyone since Nevers and Budzyn in the Malice Green case,” Harp explained. “It’s coming on a year now since my son’s death, and Fieger told me two weeks ago that he had to take the city to court to get the police reports released. As far what we are due, this was my only child. I’ll never have any grandchildren, and even a hundred million dollars can’t replace my son.”
Assistant Prosecutor Miller said regarding the Moore and Dickerson killings, “The investigations into the matters . . . were extremely thorough. We conducted our investigation independent from the police. . . In the case of Mr. Moore, we could not sustain our burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooting was not done in lawful self-defense. In the case of Mr. Dickerson we could not sustain our burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooting was [not] done in lawful self-defense and defense of others.”