On Thursday evening, December 5, 2019, dozens of Black Lives Matter organizers and allies were led by Sherilyn Haynes, mother of Christopher DeAndre Mitchell, and Demetra Johnson, mother of Anthony “AJ” Weber, in challenging Jackie Lacey at a $1500-per-person fundraiser organized and co-hosted by Trey Kozacik and Pluvious Group, which has ties to Donald Trump.
Christopher DeAndre Mitchell was killed by Torrance police officers Matthew Concannon and Anthony Chavez on December 9, 2018. His killing was captured on video and shows an unarmed 23-year-old Black man complying with officer instructions and shot within 15-seconds. After they killed him, police alleged that Christopher was armed and presented a toy gun as evidence. The City of Torrance refused to release the names of the officers who killed Chris or establish a civilian oversight commission to hold officers accountable, prompting weekly protests at Torrance City Council meetings. Officer names were finally made public in November 2019, when Jackie Lacey issued her decision not to charge them. Both Concannon and Chavez have been involved in shootings in the past.
“AJ” was 16-years-old when he was killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff deputy Greg Van Hoeson on February 4, 2018 as we was leaving a Super Bowl party. After killing him, Sheriffs attempted to assassinate AJ’s character, claiming that he had a gun. When no gun was recovered, they criminalized the community, alleging that someone must have taken it from the scene. A multi-million-dollar settlement was recently reached to provide support for Anthony’s infant daughter, Violet. The Weber family and the community in which AJ was killed has been repeatedly harassed by both Sheriffs and the Los Angeles Police Department. Despite the settlement, the family says they feel like they “got screwed” because the deputies were never held accountable.
Families and community have been imploring Lacey to prosecute officers formally through petitions, phone calls, and letter writing campaigns since 2014.
Christopher and AJ are two of the 576 Angelenos killed by police or while in custody in Los Angeles County since Lacey took office. Families and community have been imploring Lacey to prosecute officers formally through petitions, phone calls, and letter writing campaigns since 2014. For more than two years the families, supported by Black Lives Matter and allies, have gathered in front of Lacey’s office every Wednesday to protest her refusal to prosecute. Lacey has filed manslaughter charges against only one officer in a single case, Luke Liu the shooting of Francisco Garcia in Norwalk.
Beyond her refusal to prosecute officers, Lacey has rejected calls to meet publicly with the families or community. She has stated that she doesn’t want to get “yelled at.” In response, many of the families, along with Black Lives Matter, have challenged Lacey when she appears at public events and crashed private events. The fundraiser on Thursday night is one example.
As it became clear that the table of ten women, including AJ and Christopher’s mothers, were not at the upscale restaurant just for dinner, Lacey’s security moved in. The women, joined by some additional activists, attempted to create space for the mothers to speak to Lacey. Ms. Johnson, AJ’s mother, looked Lacey in the eye and said “We’ve been trying to meet with you for almost two years now.” Lacey looked away and moved into a different corner of the outdoor terrace, laughing with her White benefactors. A white-haired, bearded White man in a suit towered over the women, pushing one activist and snatching the phone of another, tossing it across the terrace. A well-dressed, blonde, 60-something-year-old woman yelled in Christopher’s mothers’ face. Within minutes, Lacey was whisked into a back room along with her all-White crowd of a few dozen patrons. Ms. Haynes, Christopher’s mother called behind her, “I need some answers! Why do you keep letting these killer cops get away with murder?”
The mothers and protestors chanted “Jackie Lacey must go!” and called for accountability for some time before leaving as Lacey’s team instructed the restaurant to call the police.
Later it was learned that the fundraiser was organized and co-hosted by Trey Kozacik and Pluvious Group, which has ties to Donald Trump.