“You have to understand, this is a nice town with good people. Something like this should have never happened here. Clearly there’s something wrong with how Officer Davis responded to the situation and although we can’t bring Darius Adams back to life, we will do whatever it takes to ensure that this never ever happens again.” – ADA Janice Walker’s statement on the murder of Darius Adams.
On June 21st in the year 2016, Darius Adams became the first unarmed African American to be shot and murdered by a police officer-- Officer Jason Davis. The shooting happened on Chester Street as Mr. Adams, 27, walked home from where he worked at PS 323. No one knows why Officer Jason Davis stopped Darius Adams but we do know that he fired his weapon 5 times with 3 of the bullets hitting Darius in the chest, killing him instantly. The whole nation was in shock. The NYPD fired Jason Davis immediately and he was arrested, processed, and held in prison awaiting trial without bail. ADA Janice Walker was going for life in prison with no opportunity for parole. “Such a violent, senseless act is unforgivable. We are not monsters.”
Fox News remained off the air for the next two days out of respect for the victim and his family. “This is a tragedy. Our police are meant to protect and serve. Who was Officer Davis protecting that night? Because it certainly wasn’t Darius Adams. Darius deserved better from our country. I’m distraught, just too upset to consider what this means for all of us but I know that we have to do better than this,” said Bill O’Reilly on his first night back on TV. He dedicated his show for the next week to figure out how something like this could happen; pouring over witness testimonies, crime scene photos, Jason Davis’ college essays, but none of it gave him any answers. Two weeks following Darius’ murder, Bill O’Reilly broke down crying on live TV. “What is happening to our country,” he sobbed, “what have we become?
A candlelit vigil was held on college campuses across the countryside. “What happened to Darius could have happened to any of us. The body they have there in the morgue could’ve been me,” says college student Mike Brown from Ferguson, Missouri.
In an interview on MSNBC, Former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly detailed how his office developed safe and engaging practices for police to protect both themselves and the citizens of the city. “You can never let it become an Us vs. Them type mentality. Maybe that’s why Officer Jason Davis snapped. And it breaks my heart that he didn’t reach out to anyone for counseling or support. Darius’ life could have been saved if Officer Davis reached out to any of our countless mental health professionals.”
Former Mayor Giuliani elaborated on Kelly’s remarks and said “Under my watch, crime rates went down and that’s because I knew that in order for police to be able to do their jobs, they needed to make a connection with people. It’d be ridiculous for them to crack down on minor offenses like turnstile jumping or panhandling. That doesn’t earn trust. That creates tension, which leads to more desperation, poverty, and violence. I think it’d be best for us to focus our energy on re-engaging with the people in order to figure out what we can do for them in the wake of this tragedy.”
One night, a large group gathered on the corner of Atlantic and Pacific Avenues. This gathering of eclectic individuals joined together as an act of protest. Before they began, they wondered what they should chant. Nobody ever had to protest a cop murdering an unarmed black man before, and so the words escaped them. What does one say to a situation like this? They marched down Atlantic towards the Brooklyn Bridge in silence, unsure of what to say.
A diverse group of musicians including 15 time Grammy winner Beyonce, Paul Simon, Whitney Houston, Willie Nelson, Taylor Swift, Huey Lewis, and Barry Manilow spent 24 hours in a recording studio where they wrote an anthem that summarized how America felt entitled, “This Is Fucked Up.” Barry Manilow’s solo went “This is fucked up/this is so fucked up/we have failed our kids today/Fuck.” The song was a number one hit for two years.
Donald Trump donated 50 million dollars to Darius’ wife, Karen Adams. “Officer Davis took a father and a husband from Karen and their kids. We as a nation need to support them. This is on us.” When asked what the government should do in reaction to this crime, Donald Trump quickly stated, “Well I’d like to remind you all that I’m not a politician. I have zero experience in how the government works. That’s why I feel like I should say nothing on the matter except that I have the utmost faith in our great American leader, President Michelle Obama.” Trump met with Cornel West and DeRay Mckesson to learn about how he could become a better ally. He never spoke a word, just sat and listened to those who were more knowledgeable than himself.
9 time Oscar winner Denzel Washington announced plans to write and direct a movie based on Darius Adams’ life. Donald Glover stated that Marvel was halting production on Spider-Man so he could star in both. 3 time Oscar winner Ava DuVernay is set to produce.
Teachers extended their curriculum on Black History from 4 months to the rest of the year. Sandra Bland, a middle school teacher in Texas, said on the decision, “This was an act of racism. Plain and simple. And as educators, it is up to us to inform our students about it. Comprehending the gravity of such a heinous act will lead these young people to understand that such behaviors are unacceptable out there in the world.”
Officer Daniel Pantaleo of the Staten Island PD held a Town Hall event in order to directly hear the neighborhood’s concerns. One resident, Eric Garner, seemed to speak for everyone when he said, “Look, I don’t know how I would live if I couldn’t trust the police to have my back. And right now, you don’t have my trust.”
Officer Pantaleo replied, “You shouldn’t. No reasonable person would trust a police officer after murdering someone based on his or her race. But I will do whatever it takes to earn that trust back.” He then proceeded to outline the NYPD’s next steps; non-violent de-escalation technique training, mandatory psych evaluations, a stricter screening process for applicants, and a no exceptions policy for police brutality. If an officer of the law was to be found guilty for misuse of power, they were to be fired and sent to jail, no exceptions.
“We know we have a lot of work to do,” said Officer Pantaleo, “but serving and protecting is what we signed up for. And if we can’t live up to that then we need to be held accountable. Without question.”
A service was held at the Brownsville Rec Center. Mourners flooded out onto Linden Boulevard. The place hadn't been this packed since Greg Jocko Jackson died. Some say you could hear Darius' mother and wife all the way over in Bed-Stuy as they asked God over and over again to bring him back from the dead.
In an exclusive interview with convicted murderer and former policeman Jason Davis, we asked him what was going through his mind at the time he encountered Darius Adams.
“Did you believe he had a weapon?” we asked.
“No, his hands were up.”
“Then why did you shoot?”
“I was afraid for my life.”
“What were you afraid of?”
“I was afraid of his blackness.”
"Why are you afraid of his blackness?"
"Because it does not match my whiteness. The unknown is unknown."
“How are you going to move on from this?”
“What?” asked Jason Davis incredulously.
“How are you going to move on from this.”
“Are you serious?” he said with venom in his voice, eyes glistening into hardened crystals.
“I shot and murdered someone for being black. There’s no moving on from this. If Darius can’t move on, then I can’t either.”
The men on the corner sat in their beach chairs by the bodega and watched the neighborhood pick up where they left off; trying, trying, trying to make things better. Unbelievable, they said. Unfuckingbelievable.
“Imagine living in a world where this kinda thing happens every day,” said one of the men.
“That’s insane,” replied another, “How could people live like that?”
"Would never happen."
"Somebody would've stopped them. Somebody would've put an end to that."
“If black folk weren’t able to wear hoodies, play with toys, listen to music, ask for help, breathe, dream, and live without being murdered for their blackness? How could we live like that?”
They all sat in silence, sipping their tall boys; thankful they didn’t live in a world like our own.