A family demands answers for Arkansas police handcuffing a grieving Black mom
Earlier this month, a mother who was grieving the tragic and shocking loss of her 4-year-old child, found herself lying face down in the parking lot of a hotel as Arkansas police handcuffed her.
According to Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Monday, Shawnda Brookshire, whose daughter Nia died in an Interstate 40 wreck two days earlier, was released by authorities without being arrested or charged, after a 20 minute showdown that culminated in her being pulled to the ground and threatened with a taser.
“My family and I flew to Arkansas to be with my sister yesterday, we checked in to the hotel after spending the day getting clothes for my 4-year old niece’s body today,” her brother, Richard Brookshire, the Director of Digital Strategy at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, posted on Facebook. “We were exhausted, had just left the funeral home where my sister and I had seen my niece’s body for the first time and had come to the hotel to get some rest.”
“My sister needed to get some fresh air after such an emotional day and was outside speaking on the phone when random officers rolled up flashing lights in her face. She showed them her hotel key and they got out of the car and asked for identification. She said her ID was inside,” he continued. “She asked the police what she was doing wrong, they surrounded her. She immediately called me and my mother on the phone and yelled that she needed help.”
Brookshire then goes on to share a gut-wrenching tale about how he, his mother and his legally blind aunt all pleaded with authorities to show mercy on the woman whose child had just died the day before.
In response to the family’s explanation, “the cops said there had been car burglaries in the area days prior and that they were arresting my sister under that suspicion because she was outside pacing back and forth on her phone (talking to my dead niece’s father). Her failure to provide I.D. when asked was enough for them to place her in handcuffs even when they simply could have gone to the front desk and verified that she was in fact a guest at the hotel.”
What makes this story even more disgraceful is that after the family went public, the West Memphis Police Department immediately tried to cover up the incident and protect the actions of its officers.
“I think it’s important to note that the West Memphis PD have already begun to spin/manipulate the story with dishonest recounts – failing to release body cam footage, having released dashboard audio with one minute redacted and deleting their public statement on the matter after pushback for its inaccuracy and callousness,” Brookshire shared while speaking to theGrio.
On the released audio, an officer can be heard joking that the woman’s hoodie alone was probable cause for the stop, and he speculated about how he expected a ruckus once her brother showed up, stating, “Damn, her brother, too – I thought it was about to be on, son.”
In an attempt to hide their lack of compassion, Brookshire alleges authorities also, “falsely stated in a local news interview that they’d not been informed of the death,” but says, “my sister tells them clearly her daughter died, and showed her hotel key to prove she was a guest at the hotel and asked to be left alone because she’d done nothing wrong in the first 2 minutes of being confronted.”
“They also only released hotel video footage from a camera farthest from the scene in order to avoid releasing footage from the camera directly above the encounter, which will dispute their narrative about not slamming my sister to the ground and placing their knee on her shoulder/neck/back,” he concluded.
Brookshire says the family plans to file a formal complaint, but at the moment their main concern is burying his niece. Her funeral is on Monday, just one day after what would have been her 5th birthday. A GoFundMe has been set up for those seeking to provide financial assistance to the family during this incredibly difficult time.