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Wanted: Answers

A sign of protest in the wake of the police shooting of Martavious Banks. (Photo: Johnathan Martin)

The police shooting of her son has Janice Banks vowing to get justice. She made that declaration Thursday morning as 25-year-old Martavious Banks remained in critical condition.

Noting that the police surveillance cameras of suspended officers had been shut off, Banks said, “It’s as plain as day and I’m not going for it.”

An internal Memphis Police Department investigation is ongoing. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation also is investigating after receiving a request from the office of the Shelby County District Attorney General.

With supporters alongside, Banks spoke at a press conference held near where her son was shot.

Martavious Banks was shot in South Memphis in the vicinity of Gill Ave. and Pillow St. on Monday evening. The vehicle he was driving had been stopped at another location. Police have said he fled after telling officers he did not have identification or insurance. An officer at the original scene advised that he saw a gun in the car.

Police stopped Banks again a short distance away from the initial spot. According to police, he ran and was shot in a subsequent encounter.

Three officers, including the one who shot him, have been suspended. Police have acknowledged that dashcam and body armor video video were turned off.

“With every energy in my body, I am going to to fight this,” Janice Banks said.

The incident sparked a protest on Airways near the Memphis Police Department’s Airways station on Wednesday evening. Protesters later moved to the area of the shooting, where a confrontation with police led to several arrests. Those protesting have court appearances scheduled for this morning (Sept. 21).

Arrested were Theryn Bond, Heather Jendoubi, Terri Conley, Hunter Demster, Patrick Ghant and Barbara Burris. All were charged with disorderly conduct, obstruction of a highway and inciting a riot. Burris, who had injuries visible in her arrest photo, has an additional assault charge.

Bond spoke with The New Tri-State Defender after spending several hours in custody. Here’s the police account of her arrest:

“Officers responded to a disturbance at 1433 Elvis Presley Blvd. Officers were advised of a large crowd blocking North and South bound traffic on Elvis Presley and Kerr. Lt. Moses made an announcement on police vehicle public speaker for all persons to disperse from the street blocking traffic or all persons obstructing will be arrested.

“Five second count down was given to protestors by Lt. Moses to clear the street on the marked squad car pa system. There were several protestors who refused to move. Suspect Theryn Bond ran out into traffic on Elvis Presley blocking north and south bound traffic in an aggressive manner. Officer Smith and Officer Akin took suspect Theryn Bond into custody without incident for obstructing street.”

Speaking to the TSD, Bond said, “To really just see it happen, in real time, you didn’t have time to think. You have to react.”

Recalling the police countdown, Bond said, “To see what I saw when they counted down, I knew they were going to get someone,”

Video captured by TSD freelance photojournalist Johnathan Martin shows an officer taking down a female protester with a football-like, clothesline tackle.

Said Bond: “How do you justify that?”

This reference was included in the police report:

“Officers Carruth and Officer Bruns observed suspect Barbara Buress still in the middle of the street after disperse announcement was given. Officers attempted to take suspect Barbara Buress into custody she took off running northbound and turned around and ran into officer Bruns and officer Carruth. Officers tackled suspect Barbara Buress to the ground and she began fighting and she kicked Officer Bruns in the face. After a short struggle suspect Barbara Buress was taken into custody…”

A tearful Janice Banks said, “Nobody from the police department has took me under consideration. I haven’t heard from the mayor of the city. They say he is out of town. Well, cell phones work out of town. I don’t care if you go to Cuba, they work.”

She took issue with the way she perceives that elements of the media are painting her son with reference to “petty misdemeanor” offenses.

“They are nothing compared to what has been done to my son.”

Banks said she wanted the records checked of the three officers who have been suspended in connection with the shooting of her son.

Noting that the police surveillance cameras of suspended officers had been shut off, Banks said, “It’s as plain as day and I’m not going for it. With every energy in my body, I am going to fight this.”

At a media briefing on Tuesday, MPD Director Michael Rallings said, “There are many questions that still need answering. …Let me assure you that I will get answers and we will hold officers accountable.”

In a released statement, Mayor Jim Strickland said he had been made aware that cameras were turned off prior to the shooting.

“Plainly said, that’s disturbing. In my eyes, it is unacceptable and inexcusable – no question about it.

“We’re going to get to the bottom of this.”

(This story includes reports by Montee Lopez and TSD Associate Publisher/Executive Editor Karanja A. Ajanaku.)




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