Demonstrators for Che Taylor, the 46-year-old man who died after being shot by police in Seattle’s Wedgewood neighborhood, called for the firing of Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole at a downtown protest Thursday.
The group of about 100 protesters also called for charges to be brought against Seattle police officers Michael Spaulding and Scott Miller.
“It’s up to us because our kids depend on this now,” said Taylor’s friend, Eric Patrick. “If it’s a 50-50 chance that I get killed by a police officer if my brake lights aren’t working, then what is it with our kids? This is serious. It’s not a black thing. It’s not a white thing. It’s us — it’s a life thing. I’m here to fight for it the right way. It must be done, by all means necessary. It must be done.”
Police say that the officers encountered Taylor Sunday afternoon after conducting surveillance in the 2200 block of Northeast 85th Street. Police say that officers recognized Taylor near a car. Police said Taylor had a holstered handgun that he was forbidden to have because of a prior felony conviction. Taylor had served about 22 years in prison and has convictions for rape, robbery and assault.
Police say officers attempted to take Taylor into custody and they say he was shot after failing to follow officers’ commands. Police released a video of the incident on its blog.
However the Seattle-King County NAACP President Gerald Hankerson disputed the account at a press conference this week and said Taylor was attempting to follow commands when he was shot.
Hankerson also questioned whether the gun and suspected drugs that police reportedly found on Taylor could have been planted and that his past criminal history was irrelevant.
Brenda Taylor, Che Taylor’s wife of 14 years, said that the couple had a ministry and they worked to make changes in the prison system. Che Taylor was released from prison in 2014.
“I want to see our men stand up and be [like the man] my husband was. My husband’s no joke,” Brenda Taylor said.
“I know the man that fought for righteousness, justice. He wanted everybody to have a piece of mind. That’s the kind of man he was. He wanted everyone to live good. We’re children of the Kingdom. We’re God’s people,” Brenda Taylor said.
His friend Ardell Shaw also spoke to Taylor’s character.
“Che T. would give clothes off his back. Che T. would give food to people who didn’t have it,” Shaw said. “Che T. had a good heart.”
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant also expressed solidarity with protest demands and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We need to keep building our movement because you can see what we’re up against. We’re up against a political establishment in city hall that is aiding and abetting this behavior in the police department,” she said. “I’m here as an elected official because I’m unambiguously committed to holding the Seattle Police Department accountable for their reprehensible actions.”
Thursday’s demonstration began at around 10 a.m. in front of the police department and moved throughout downtown blocking several intersections — including Westlake Center intersection — and continued past 2 p.m. after stopping at the federal courthouse. They were followed by Seattle police on bicycles who redirected traffic around the protest.
Editor’s note: due to an editor’s error, captions on the photos were switched. The correct captions are now attached to the photos.