“Jennifer” remembers the day police shot her father dead during a drug sweep of the neighborhood in December 2016. The police claim he was a drug dealer and resisted arrest. Jennifer has a different version. She said that about seven men in civilian clothes barged into their small home that day, looking for him. .
“He was told to lie face down but he held his ID up behind him. All the while, one of the men had a gun to his head,” Jennifer recalls. She said she tried to shield her father by hugging him, and covering him with her small body. The men ordered everyone but her father to leave the house; on her way out, Jennifer saw her father continue to beg for his life. Moments later, when Jennifer and all the others were in the small alley outside the house, three gunshots rang out. .
Uniformed police officers arrived minutes later; the men in civilian clothes were still inside the home. When the medics came, Jennifer strained to look inside and saw blood all over the floor, her father now lying face up beside the couch. “That’s when I saw the gun beside his hand,” Jennifer said. She swore her father did not have a gun, that she never saw one in their home. Police say they shot him because he fought back. .
Witnessing what happened to her father was traumatic enough for Jennifer and her family. But the consequence of his death only added to their suffering. They lost their breadwinner. Since his death, there have been days the children have had nothing to eat. They rely mainly on the generosity of their grandmother, who agreed to take care of them. .
Jennifer still grapples with the trauma of her father’s death. “I am confused because I still don’t understand why. Why my Papa? Of all the people here, why did they pick my father?” Jennifer said. “I am so angry.” During these bouts of confusion and anger, Jennifer would find refuge in doodling and drawing scenes of her family, kittens, and sad girls on her notepad or on the plywood walls of her home. But she could never finish her drawings. “It’s because something is missing in the drawing,” she said. “It’s incomplete.”