I am a warrior and survivor of trauma and drug use, and when everyone had given up on me, Empowerment believed in me. Like the phoenix I rose from the ashes and have been soaring high ever since, not without a few bumps and bruises along the way, but still on track. So exciting! Only since December after seeing my friend get killed and watching another shoot someone. I saw a lot of deaths. 3 years ago, my life changed forever as I watched my brother get killed; I have lost all but one of my brothers and my grandma.
So life ain't always been good, but here I stand, mentally strong and staying drug-free. Thank you, Empowerment.
by Delsia Brown
On November 15th, 2018, my life changed forever hearing the news that my only son and the youngest of my two children had died. In moments, my son had become another statistic.
From an early age, Allen had always been a family person who was overprotective of his family, with an extremely generous heart, strong work ethic, goofy laugh, and an ever-present smile.
I remember that morning vividly driving home getting off the I-25 highway and getting a phone call from one of his friends, asking me had I spoken to Allen. They heard a rumor that the person killed an hour ago by the Arapahoe PD was Allen.
I never received a formal notice/call from the Sheriff’s Department notifying me that my son had been killed. I do not know why that still bothers me presently but it does. Maybe because I felt like they (the police) never viewed him as a victim or had enough respect to find me and tell me what they had done to my 18 yr old son.
I have read/heard several different versions of what happened that morning, most of which is erroneous and insulting to who he was. They allowed the initial press release that was put out to fuel the justification of their actions. (He was in a love triangle—he was waving a gun around at the tire shop—accompanied by his female companion—he was possibly the aggressor of the situation that transpired between his female companion and her ex.)
Unfortunately, because society at times will base their judgement from what they read or hear within the first 24/48 hours, the actions of the officers were justified, in the news and public view, and his name was tarnished even more.
After a video surfaced online more light was shone on the situation. Upon the subsequent car chase involving my son, which was him going about 5 miles over the speed limit, they boxed in his vehicle. The officers gave him directives again, and at some point one of the officers involved proceeded to try and break the drivers side window open with the butt of his gun (At one point the clip fell out of the officers gun). After a couple minutes, based on the body cam footage of one of the officer, Allen’s hands went up. It is said to be unclear to the officers whether he had a gun in his hand, but the windshield wiper was hit, the blades started moving and the officers started shooting. Allen was about 130 pounds standing at best 5”9”/ 5”10”. Of the over 35 bullets that were fired by the officers, 5 of those bullets hit my baby.
My mind frequently goes to how frightened he must have been surrounded by the police cars and then to have officers approach the vehicle and yelling at him. My heart breaks for him each time I relive that moment in my head. The bullets tearing through his tiny body.
The body cam footage finally given to us months later are inconclusive because we can make out what looks like the outlining of his car’s rear-view mirror, which they claim is the outlining of a gun. There is so much to the story that I cannot wrap my mind around.
I was informed by witnesses that Allen was the one telling people at the tire shop to call the cops. Officers went on the aggressor’s version of the story as one of the reasons to pursue him after he left the tire shop’s parking lot. The need to fire upon his vehicle within minutes after him pulling over when they could have called for someone to talk him out the car. The body cam footage lacks clarity, so we only have officers’ word of them seeing a gun in his hand.
Allen was a teenager, who had made his own share of mistakes in the past. But they were learning lessons he was going to grow from. I’ve read the stories about other black men who have been killed by police and their past mistakes immediately being dug up and released to justify their death and summarize their life. But we all have a past and have made mistakes. My son did not have the life you can google and judge based on what you read of the last hour of his life. He had family members that loved him tremendously and he had a right to correct his past and live for his future.
The victim’s family are shamed with the possibility of people digging up the past of your loved one’s life, as if this summarizes their life in entirety, when they are killed by the hands of the police. The goal is to demonize our loved ones, when they are killed by the people who have sworn to serve and protect us.
It is emotionally, physically, and financially draining to fight for the truth. The trend of victim shaming and victim blaming has to stop. We must now organize for reforms and changes for the people that are paid to serve and protect us and work as a unified community.
I will never experience any more firsts with my son, no grandchildren, no wedding— no mother and son dance. His first home and first business. I remember growing up and hearing that a parent should never bury their child because the hurt and heartbreak is a different kind of pain. I never thought I would be that parent and he would be that child. I know I will miss and need my son for the rest of my time on this earth.
Will Smith put it best, “there are not more incidents of racially based police use of excessive force, people are just filming it now”.
-Delsia Brown, Staff at The Empowerment Program, Inc.