Desmon Ray

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Desmon Montez Ray Jr (born c. 1992; died April 5, 2021 in Birmingham) was fatally wounded during an encounter with Birmingham Police officers in the evening of Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021.

Ray was the son of Desmon Ray Sr and LaShondra Wilson. He was the father of six children.

According to the police report, 911 dispatchers received a call reporting a domestic disturbance inside a vehicle in motion in North Birmingham at 10:50 PM. Officers from the North Precinct located the suspect vehicle on the 300 block of 9th Avenue West in College Hills, near the JCCEO's Arrington Head Start Center, and attempted to make a traffic stop. The driver attempted to evade the stop and collided with a chain link fence in the next block to the east.

The report states that Ray, the driver of the car, then emerged from the vehicle and "confronted officers with a firearm." Police Chief Patrick Smith later added that Ray fired at least one shot toward the police. Officers returned fire, making at least 8 shots, one of which struck Ray. He fell to the ground, but continued moving for several minutes while officers attempted to assess the situation. Once he was handcuffed, they summoned the Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service to treat the wounded Ray and transport him to UAB Hospital, where was pronounced dead at 12:45 AM. A handgun and shell casing were recovered at the scene.

The officer who fired the fatal shot was placed on paid leave immediately following the incident, but later returned to duty. Smith released video from two body-worn cameras and a neighbor's doorbell camera to the media on May 4. No video from dash-mounted cameras was available, apparently due to technical issues. Ray's grandmother has claimed that the video released to the media differed from what the family was shown. Richard Rice, an attorney representing the family, stated that the videos do not show Ray firing a gun. He added that Ray was shot in the back.

The Alabama State Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the officer-involved shooting, but have not referred any criminal prosecutions to the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office.

Black Lives Matter Birmingham has called for Mayor Randall Woodfin and Police Chief Patrick Smith to resign over their handling of the shooting, their lack of communication with Ray's family, and the release of video from the incident.

References

  • "Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Update" (April 5, 2021) Birmingham Police Department
  • Robinson, Carol (April 5, 2021) "Armed man fatally shot by Birmingham police who responded to domestic dispute in a vehicle." The Birmingham News
  • Rankin, Malique (April 14, 2021) "‘I’m not gonna see my baby anymore’: Family of Desmon Ray demanding answers in police shooting." CBS42.com
  • Robinson, Carol (April 15, 2021) "‘We demand justice’: Emotional vigil held for man fatally shot by Birmingham police." The Birmingham News
  • Wright, Erica (April 16, 2021) "Family, activists demand answers in officer-involved shooting of 28-year-old." The Birmingham Times
  • Robinson, Carol (May 4, 2021) "Desmon Ray’s fatal shooting by Birmingham police shown in newly released videos." The Birmingham News
  • Dionne, Brittany (May 4, 2021) "Family attorney responds to Desmon Ray video." WBRC.com
  • Robinson, Carol (May 11, 2021) "Black Lives Matter Birmingham calls for resignations of mayor, chief over fatal police shooting of Desmon Ray Jr." The Birmingham News
  • Robinson, Carol (May 11, 2021) "Birmingham mayor: Desmon Ray’s death not another case of police shooting unarmed Black man." The Birmingham News