Police Fatally Shot Three People of Color in the Same County in the Month of June Alone
Giovonn Joseph-McDade, a 20-year-old college student at Green River College, was shot and killed by a police officer on June 24 in Kent, Washington, becoming the 477th civilian and one of 119 black men fatally shot by police so far this year.
McDade is the third person of color fatally shot in King County by police in the past month. On June 13, Tommy Le, 20, was shot and killed by a King’s County sheriff's deputy the night before his high school graduation. The deputy claimed Le was holding a knife at the time of the shooting, but later reports reveal it was actually a pen. Five days after Le’s death, two Seattle police officers shot and killed 30-year-old Charleena Lyles, a mentally ill black woman who was pregnant at the time.
The fatal shooting began when a Kent police officer initiated a traffic stop, pulling McDade over for possibly having switched or canceled plates, Des Moines Police Department Assistant Police Chief Bob Bohl told the Huffington Post via email. Devonte Cheeks was also in the car, according to the department’s police report. Bohl said McDade was driving a Honda, which is the most commonly stolen vehicle in the state. The police chief said the officer who conducted the traffic stop would also have been investigating McDade for a possible stolen vehicle in addition to the switched plates. Later reports reveal McDade’s Honda was not stolen.
McDade then fled from the officer in his vehicle, prompting a police pursuit. At one point, the officers attempted to end the car chase by using a pursuit intervention technique (PIT), in which the officers hit the suspect’s car to stop it. The first initiation of PIT did not work, but a second attempt successfully stopped McDade’s vehicle in a residential cul de sac.
Private security footage and audio of the radio traffic from the incident offer more insight into the events leading to McDade’s death. About 40 seconds into the audio, an officer says McDade’s car had slowed down before speeding up to 60 miles per hour. Des Moines police claim McDade was driving between the two police patrol cars when an officer fired two shots at McDade.
“He tried to ram me,” an officer says in the audio recording. Around the 3-minute mark in the audio, officers are heard requesting medical attention. McDade died at the scene while Cheeks was uninjured by the gunfire.
Des Moines police say a field test came back positive showing 4.9 grams of methamphetamine in McDade’s wallet, and the department is waiting for confirmation from the Washington State Crime Lab. Police also say that 69.2 grams of marijuana and a suspicious liquid were found in the vehicle, both of which will be sent to the crime lab.
According to reporting from The Stranger, McDade's friends say they are skeptical about the police narrative, arguing it does not fit McDade’s character or personality.
"It just sounds out of place for the Giovonn that I know," said Keith Isaac, a childhood friend of McDade's.
The two Kent police officers involved in McDade’s death are currently on paid administrative leave.