COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Two families whose relatives were fatally shot by Columbus police are renewing their requests for independent investigations.
The families of 13-year-old Tyre King and 23-year-old Henry Green held a press conference Tuesday, speaking tearfully about their loved ones.
Tyre was shot Sept. 14 after police say he ran from an officer investigating a reported armed robbery and pulled a BB gun that looked like a real firearm. Green was shot June 6 after two plainclothes officers said he ignored commands to drop his gun and fired on them.
Sean Walton, an attorney who represents both families, said witnesses have contradicted information from police in the cases. He said he planned to send letters to city officials Tuesday urging them to join Tyre’s family in requesting a Justice Department review of the shooting. Letters were sent earlier on behalf of Green’s family, he said.
Both shootings are under investigation and will be presented to a grand jury to decide whether charges are merited against the officers.
Tyre’s death has heightened tensions over the safety of blacks in Ohio’s largest city and added to a list of killings of black males by police that are attracting national attention.
King’s grandmother said she called the boy her “little crumbsnatcher” and said he played ice hockey and loved gymnastics. She said the boy told her he loved her and gave her a kiss the last time she saw him.
“I thank God for that, that I had my last kiss with my grandson,” she said, calling for justice for both families.
Green’s mother, Adrienne Hood, remembered her son fondly as a prankster who always looked after his family. She cried as she held up the last text she received from him, a picture of a pair of Nike flip flops he had just bought her.
“Our children were human beings, and they should be looked at as such,” Hood said. “There are families behind them that are hurting because they’re not here anymore.”
She described a culture within the Columbus Police Department she said needed to change, and said her family is “not asking for the impossible” by calling for an independent investigation.
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.