Jamaal Taylor (Courtesy photo)
Jamaal Taylor (Courtesy photo)

Since Baltimore County Police gunned down 31-year-old Jamaal Taylor at the Hunt Valley Towne Centre late last month, much of the focus has been on video footage of the deadly showdown and the decedent’s criminal history.

However, Taylor’s family has embarked on a mission to counter the Baltimore County Police Department’s narrative, painting it as part of a plot to dehumanize the late father of four and community activist while absolving the officers involved of any responsibility.

“Jamaal was defending himself. He was walking away from the police. It’s all on video,” said Marah O’Neal, the mother of Taylor’s children.

Earlier this month, O’Neal and others organized a rally at the Arch Social Club in Baltimore’s Penn North neighborhood that attracted dozens towing signs and demanding justice.

The Baltimore County Police Department has since identified two officers by the name of Wise and Brocato as those involved in Taylor’s shooting death on the afternoon of Sept. 28. Both have been placed on administrative leave.

On that day, Wise, Brocato and others had responded to calls of someone yelling at and stabbing people outside of the Hunt Valley Wine Liquor and Beer Store. Minutes after arriving on the scene, they shot and killed Taylor, who they said fled the shopping mall.

O’Neal, who has only seen the dashcam footage from the incident, said events unfolded differently than what officials recounted.

“They were walking behind him. They could’ve pepper-sprayed him, but they shot him multiple times,” she said. “The old things about him they’re bringing up has nothing to do with how they killed him. Baltimore County Police played judge, lawyer, and executioner. I want the officers to be held accountable. They can’t do that to our people.”

The Baltimore County Police Department didn’t respond to The Informer’s inquiry about protocol for officers in similar situations.

Taylor’s death followed events within the Baltimore County Police Department regarding its practices and dealings with suspects. In late August, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Baltimore County, alleging racial bias against African American police officer and cadet applicants via exams having nothing to do with their jobs. A month prior, Baltimore City police officers shot and killed a suspect in an encounter at Duke’s Motel in Rosedale.

At the time of his death, Taylor counted as a dues-paying member of the newly chartered Division 172 of the Universal Negro Improvement Association-African Communities League (UNIA-ACL), based in Baltmore City. He also served as a participant in the Black Wolves Youth Scout Nation. In that capacity and others, Taylor helped coordinate youth meditation activities and chaperoned other summer experiences.

Kamose Muhammad, first assistant president-general of UNIA-ACL’s parent body and president-general of Division 172, based in Baltimore, said that Taylor had garrned the respect and trust of the young people and elders he encountered during his short time with the Pan-African organization.

Days after officers killed Taylor, Division 172 members joined Taylor’s family for a candlelight vigil at Shawan and McCormick roads, the site of Taylor’s death in Cockeysville.

“The loss of anyone in our community could be devastating,” Muhammad said. “It hit home for me because I knew Jamaal, shook his hand, and talked to him. Also, as a Black man, community activist, and someone who loves our people, it touches me deeply anytime one of us is a victim in what looks like another assassination of Black people.”

Sam P.K. Collins

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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