A Constant State of Rage

In Delray Beach, cops have a remarkable history of shooting black suspects — with impunity

Stephens' decision wasn't binding on Krischer, who as a former defense attorney had represented police officers in cases involving excessive use of force. So as weeks turned into months after the inquest, a mood of skepticism spread. In late July, Krischer announced that he'd be sending the case to a grand jury — the very same secretive process that the inquest was intended to replace, critics said. Krischer's primary stated reason was that Stephens had based her decision "in part on hearsay and other inadmissible testimony."

The grand jury chose not to indict Cogoni. The City of Delray fired him immediately — an action that many thought was overdue but that only kindled more ill will.

"I think it was a fulfillment of the expectations — cynical expectations — of the black community," King says of the grand jury outcome, laughing ruefully. "They thought, there is no justice served, it's just another of the same old, same old tactics for the white man to be in power. The people in the justice system were going to protect their own."

Jerrod Miller participated in a school-work program, but he died before he got the first job he longed for.
Miller Family
Jerrod Miller participated in a school-work program, but he died before he got the first job he longed for.
Jayne King says Jerrod's death blew the lid off racial tensions in Delray Beach.
Colby Katz
Jayne King says Jerrod's death blew the lid off racial tensions in Delray Beach.
Delray Beach

Even Mayor Perlman is nonplussed. "I think there was a lack of leadership from the State Attorney's Office on this issue," he says. "Why do an inquest? I just didn't understand why it played out the way it did."

For some blacks in Delray, the answer is apparent.

"There's no way that Barry Krischer, while he's state attorney, would make a police officer go to jail for killing a black man," black activist Potts asserts. "He never has in the past; he never will in the future. He took the political way out with the grand jury."

Miller, a devout Christian woman, says she's tried to give Cogoni the benefit of the doubt. "I thought, maybe he panicked. He's a rookie, so he's not used to handling these kinds of situations. Perhaps the first thing that came to his mind was, 'If I let this get away, they're going to think that I can't handle my job.' But then when I heard his testimony, it wasn't about that he could handle his job; it was to show that he could shoot straight."

From her home that still aches over a missing brother and grandson, Miller shows the same steely resolve she displayed at the rally. "When I speak, I'm not just speaking for Jerrod," she declares. "I feel for the ones who've already been killed, for those who are leaving the house and we don't know what's going to happen to them."

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