COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The families of two black people fatally shot by city police renewed their requests Tuesday for independent investigations into the officers’ actions while describing the emotional toll of losing their loved ones.
Relatives of Tyre King, 13, and Henry Green, 23, sought to define them beyond details released in police records.
Green was “a typical kid” who played basketball, ran track and loved a good prank, his mother said. Tyre was a boy with many interests, mischievous, a “crumb snatcher” and a “mama’s boy — not in a bad way,” his grandmother recalled.
Witnesses have contradicted information from police in both cases, said attorney Sean Walton, who is representing both families. He said he planned to send letters to city officials Tuesday urging them to join Tyre’s family in requesting a U.S. Department of Justice review of the shooting. Letters were sent earlier on behalf of Green’s family, he said.
“We would hope that we could stand with our city officials and seek the truth together,” Walton said. “Unfortunately, the ball’s not in our court right now.”
A spokeswoman for Democratic Mayor Andrew Ginther said he has “great confidence” in the ability of the Columbus Division of Police to investigate the more recent shooting, of Tyre, but added the department would cooperate if the Department of Justice chooses to get involved.
“What’s most important is a thorough, objective accounting of the facts surrounding this tragic event,” said Ginther’s spokeswoman, Robin Davis.
At a news conference Tuesday, Tyre’s grandmother and Green’s mother explained what the fatal shootings meant to them.
“I’m 63,” said Dearrea King, Tyre’s grandmother. “Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought that I would see any of my grandchildren laid to rest.”
Green’s mother echoed that sentiment.
“I don’t feel like I should be here,” Adrienne Hood said. “It should not have happened.”
Both shootings are under investigation and will be presented to a grand jury to decide whether charges are merited against the officers.
Tyre was shot Sept. 14 after he ran from an officer investigating a reported armed robbery and pulled a BB gun that looked like a real firearm, police say.
Green was shot June 6 after he ignored the commands of two plainclothes officers to drop his gun and fired on them, police say.
The deaths have heightened tensions over the safety of black people in Ohio’s largest city and added to a list of killings of black males by police that are attracting national attention.
On Monday, dozens of demonstrators protesting the fatal police shootings brought a city council meeting to a halt.
With chants that included “Black lives matter,” the protesters shouted down the council president and briefly took over the front portion of the council chamber at City Hall. They said they don’t trust the police to investigate themselves and urged that more money be spent on violence prevention and other programs.
Dearrea King said Tuesday that she and others feel ignored and their questions go unanswered.
“What we want, what we all want, is justice for both of our families,” she said.