Las Vegas-area residents demanded justice for Byron Williams, Atatiana Jefferson and other black people killed by police during the National Day of Outrage rally Monday outside the Regional Justice Center.
“We just want to see this all the way through and not get comfortable after a couple of weeks of hashtagging,” said Marcie Wells of Las Vegas, who organized Monday’s hourlong event. “And make it a habit to follow these cases through and to speak out and participate in days of outrage like this to stay outraged when people are being killed for no reason.”
Jefferson, 28, was killed Oct. 12 in her home in Fort Worth, Texas. An officer responding to a request for a welfare check fired a shot through a window, killing her. Police said in a statement at the time that the officer fired after “perceiving a threat.”
The Las Vegas group was one of at least 23 rallying for similar causes across the country. The event, which drew about 15 attendees, was originally called to seek justice for black women but ultimately covered the black community as a whole, touching often on Williams’ recent death.
Williams, of Las Vegas, died in police custody after being pulled over for riding his bike at night without safety lights. He fled but then gave himself up.
The Clark County coroner’s office ruled the death a homicide and said it was caused by a methamphetamine overdose, with other significant conditions including “prone restraint,” hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, pulmonary fibrosis and granulomatous lung disease.
Coroner John Fudenberg said in a statement at the time, “In this context, homicide means that the actions of another person or other people resulted in, or contributed to, the death. It is not a determination of criminal activity or wrongdoing.”
After Williams’ death, the Las Vegas Review-Journal viewed some of the body camera footage from his arrest at a briefing at the Metropolitan Police Department headquarters. Williams’ family said they were shown footage that wasn’t shared with the news media.
His daughter, Kelly Williams, said at the event Monday that officers held their knees in her father’s back while yelling, “No one’s coming for you!”
Williams said she is asking police to publicly release all of the footage and for charges to be brought against officers Benjamin Vasquez and Patrick Campbell. But the most important thing, she said, is that people stand up and speak out.
“I didn’t come out here before when I was asked, and I’m out here now because of my dad,” she said. “So I’m just asking the community to come out before it’s too late — before it’s one of your family members.”
Alma Chavez, of Las Vegas, echoed the sentiment, saying things have gotten worse since her son was killed in 2011.
Chavez said she called police for help de-escalating her son, who “had gotten emotional but wasn’t putting anyone at risk” after a fight with his girlfriend. When officers arrived, she said, they shot him.
Police said her son, 23-year-old Rafael Olivas, was holding a knife and ignored orders to drop it. They fired four beanbag shotgun rounds at him, then the fatal shots.
Chavez said at the time that officers never gave her son a chance to surrender.
“They ended my son’s life, and they ended my life with him,” she said Monday after the rally.