My Brother’s Killing Messed Me Up

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brother: activists, some wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts, gather for march to protest alleged police brutality

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March 7, 2012 my oldest brother was killed. He was killed by the NOPD (New Orleans Police Department).

Coming home from school March 7, 2012, my oldest brother and his friend was sitting outside. They were just chilling and talking. Once he saw my siblings and I get off the school bus, he told us not to come outside until we finished our homework. I told him “OK” and we walked past him to the front door.

First thing I remember doing was going to my mother’s bedroom to start my homework. I started to doze off in my mother’s bed. Before I fell completely asleep I saw my brother and his friend go upstairs to my second oldest brother’s room. I fell completely asleep after that.

I was awakened by what seemed to be thunder. BOOM!!! That sound was a battering ram. I hurried up and jumped out of the bed. My little siblings were in the back screaming and scared. BOOM!!! The second hit on the door made the door fly off the hinges. 

About 20 mean men came running through the downstairs of the house. They all were yelling at us. You could barely hear them. They were all yelling at the same time. A big man was standing in the doorway of my mother’s bedroom pointing a gun directly to my head. He yelled at my sister and me, screaming, “DON’T MOVE!” 

My heart was beating so fast at that moment. My mind was so lost. I thought I was going to die. I didn’t move one bit, not one inch. As still as I was, I saw so many mean policemen run upstairs. Some were running back down and one went back up. I figured the moment he would reach the top of those stairs, he would pull the trigger. 

A shot fired. My heart sunk deep. I was so lost in my mind. All I heard were kids screaming and police yelling. I couldn’t believe I had a gun pointed to my head. I couldn’t believe so many mean police were in my home. 

And then a shot fired upstairs where my oldest brothers were.

They took us kids out to the brick wall of our house after the shot was fired. They made us sit on the cold ground, and told us to stay still. I was scared, so scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen next. All I could’ve done was sit there and hear screaming. Tears started to fall, not knowing who got shot in my home. 

‘My heart dropped’

I started to realize that it had to be one of my brothers or my brother’s friend because the police who pulled the trigger came outside of the house. Outside all I could see were policemen and yellow tape around the sides and corners of the house. There were too many men out there. You couldn’t even count them on your hands. Big white men, some black, but more white than black.

As we sat outside on that cold ground, they began to escort my brother’s friend out the house into the police car. After that, they escorted my second oldest brother. One of his legs was broken, so they had to carry him down those stairs. On the way he had to walk past our oldest brother’s body. 

Our oldest brother was dying. 

As they carried my second oldest, all he could do was cry. He cried and screamed, “Y’ALL KILLED MY BROTHER!” I heard him way from outside, he was coming downstairs. 

When I saw his face, my heart dropped. His eyes never left ours while he was being carried away. His face was wet and full of tears. His eyes were red and watery. 

All I could do was look at him and replay those words in my head until he got in the police car. No words could get out of my mouth. I was shocked to hear him say those words, “YOU KILLED MY BROTHER!” 

Even though I really didn’t know what death meant, the word “killed” shot my heart. The sadness in his eyes made all of us cry harder. They were put in police cars and taken away from the scene.

‘They questioned us’

My siblings and I were still sitting on the cold ground, hearing our brother die off. He was screaming for help. He suffered upstairs in our home. They did nothing at all. They probably could’ve saved our brother. He died upstairs in our home. 

He left behind 10 other siblings.

After five minutes or so, one policeman took us away to a place we didn’t know anything about. We drove to two places, one was the police station and the other place was a place where we were questioned. 

We were asked so many questions. We had to go in private rooms and talk to people we didn’t know. We all had to answer questions we didn’t really know the answers to. They questioned us like we were adults or even teenagers. My sister was only 14 at the time. 

We told them how that policeman took away our brother. I was scared in that place; all I wanted was my mother.

My mother found us around 1 or 2 in the morning. She was so sad; her face was full of tears. She hugged all of us and told us she loved us so much. Right away we left that place. She took us to our grandma’s house. We slept there for about a month or so. Every night there, they would put us to bed and we’d hear sad music playing. That was my mother in the front room crying and singing those sad songs. Hearing her cry made me sad. 

I couldn’t sleep at all for a few nights trying to make sense with what happened. I was young and didn’t completely understand everything. I knew there was something wrong, but I didn’t understand death completely.

Night after night my mother cried and asked the Lord, “WHY?” Day after day my mother wanted justice. All my family members came from out of every other town or city to help my mother get her justice. People we didn’t even know wanted to help us. They marched and marched every day until night. 

That policeman killed my brother for no reason. He took our brother, my mother’s first son, away from us. He was well loved by his family. We wanted justice right then, and there.

One day my mother decided to take all of us and march with her. We made posters saying, “JUSTICE FOR OUR BROTHER!” We marched, yelling, “ NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE.” We marched for hours in front of the City Hall building. 

We weren’t the only people who wanted justice. They had hundreds of people out there. Some were helping our family out. Some wanted justice for all the BLACK LIVES lost to aggressive police officers. The news people were out there taking pictures. I was even put in the news report and a website page. I had my poster held up high, screaming for justice. 

Over and over those words repeated. I looked at my mother, she was crying and screaming. Everybody wanted some type of justice.

‘Angry with the world’

My mother got her justice. She wanted every bit of justice she could get. She wasn’t stopping until we got it. She met the man who killed my brother in a conference meeting. He was asked questions. One question we all really wanted answers to was, “WHY?” He pulled the trigger and my brother had no weapon. Maybe he said he was scared. Scared of what? His color or how big he was? 

The man was taped on camera and he was found guilty. He answered all my mother’s questions. He felt her pain, but didn’t completely know the feeling. He told the truth and we got justice.

We got justice, but I didn’t completely understand much of what had happened. I was young and only feeling lost. I was just doing what everybody else was doing. It messed me up trying to realize what death meant and to realize that I’ll never have my brother again. 

It really messed me up when I realized at a certain age that I won’t have any older brothers. I was mad at the police because my brother never had a chance to teach me some things. He couldn’t teach me how to play any type of ball. I didn’t have a father in my life, so I was expecting him to teach me something when I got older. 

I became angry with the policemen and the world. I became so disrespectful. I had no one to talk to or I really didn’t want to talk to anyone. Everybody would just feel sorry for me.

I didn’t need anybody to feel sorry. I needed the help and nobody was there to help. I didn’t want to talk to my mother about it because she was already hurting. I didn’t get help so it messed with my mind; it changed me from the good child to the bad.

Time has made a change in me. I am now 16 years of age. Coping with the death of other family members and friends has helped me deal with my situation. I am surprised at how I can control my emotions when the thought comes to mind. 

I don’t get too scared when my eyes close and when I hear that shot and my brother crying for help in my sleep; it really doesn’t bother me anymore. I am understanding death day by day. Everybody has to die one day and we don’t know when and how we are going to die. 

I did get help. I am not so disrespectful anymore. 

I’m not mad with the world anymore, but I am still terrified of any and all police.

Tyrone is scheduled to be released this month after serving time for manslaughter in a facility in Branch, La.

The Beat Within, a publication of writing and art from incarcerated youth, was founded by David Inocencio in San Francisco in 1996. Weekly writing and conversation workshops are held in California, six other states and Washington, D.C. Submissions and new partners are welcomed. Write to him at dinocencio@thebeatwithin.org.

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