Tyrone West’s Sister Refuses $1 Million Settlement
Tawanda Jones told the BCPD she would not accept the settlement, which included a gag order that would have shut down “West Wednesdays” protests demanding justice for the wrongful death of her brother
Eze Jackson: It’s been four years since Tyrone West died after police beat him for nearly an hour in north Baltimore. Since then, his sister Tawanda Jones has held weekly protests to demand justice for Tyrone and details on how and why he died. But this week, both the city and state settled separate lawsuits brought on behalf of his children. The payout, $1 million.
But the money comes with a catch. Silence. A so-called do not disparage clause that the city uses to keep victims of police brutality from speaking out. But Jones, who removed herself from this suit, says she is not taking the money or keeping quiet, which is why her weekly protest continued on schedule. West Wednesday, number 209.
Tawanda Jones: All right y’all. First of all I want to thank everybody for coming out today. This is our 209th West Wednesday, but before we get started, as you see the media is here, and I thank the media for coming. I appreciate you guys. I invited the media here for a reason. It’s because last night I actually saw my face, you know on the news article, stating that the sister of Tyrone West, Tawanda Jones … It was a settlement hearing for my brother’s brutal execution.
So I want to be clear, and I want to set the record straight moving forward, so everybody can know. Let’s be crystal clear that Tawanda Jones did not settle for anything. This is public record that I actually took my name off as personal representative, as hard as that was, to detach my name from my brother. That was a hard moment, and from his kids, but it was something that I had to do, because at the end of the day we all know how the city of Baltimore works.
They will not craft my language. They will not craft the way I talk or tell me certain things I can and can not say, and I did not want to jeopardize his children’s settlement. So that’s why I detached myself away from it. I will never, ever settle for anything. I’m not going to settle. Let’s be clear. I’m on the right side of justice.
Tawanda Jones: I’m on the side that wants to see killer cops in cell blocks. I’m on that side.
Eze Jackson: The settlement comes amid a backdrop of tension in Baltimore over policing and the violence it engenders that has rocked the city since the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. In March, seven officers were charged with planting evidence, racketeering, and abusing overtime. A body camera video that surfaced in July shows another group of officers planting evidence in an alley in order to charge an individual with drug distribution.
Baltimore city residents have very little trust in the criminal justice system. Few know this feeling of distrust more than Tawanda. In four years, Tawanda has gained tremendous support from activists, residents, and other victims of police brutality. She has supported family members of those who have been slain by police, like Anthony Anderson and Freddie Gray, as well as other victims of police brutality, like Abdul Salaam.
Abdul Salaam: Ase.
Abdul Salaam: I always like to remind this, first, it’s the energizer bunny, y’all.
Abdul Salaam: Yeah, this is the energizer bunny. The movement of what we’ve seen that has happened and transpired in Baltimore for the last four years.
Eze Jackson: Abdul Salaam, who runs an organization that works with Baltimore city youth, was beat up by the same police officers in the same community in front of his neighbors while his child was in the car just days before Tyrone West’s death. Tawanda continues to publicly call out the names of the police officers responsible for the death of her brother.
Tawanda Jones: I’m still going to act up. Latreese Nicole Lee, let’s be clear. Danielle Lewis, let’s be crystal clear. Derrick Beasley, let’s be clear. Alex Hashagen, let’s be clear. Eric Hinton, David Lewis from Morgan State University, Mathew Cioffi, Bernardez-Ruiz, Nicholas Killer David Chapman, I’m going after y’all. I’m going in. I’m not going to talk about reform. I’m talking about a few killer cops, and I’m not even going to call you killer cops. I’m going to call you some stinking animals.
Speaker: That’s right.
Tawanda Jones: What you did to my brother and my family? You have torn a family forever. I don’t know what to say to his kids. It ain’t about no damn income. It’s about the outcome.
Eze Jackson: The $1 million settlement will go to West’s children, with $600,000 of it coming from the city of Baltimore and another $400,000 coming from the State of Maryland. But Tawanda says no amount of money is enough, especially after seeing over $1.2 million offered to a family in May … A family whose dog was shot and killed by Anne Arundel County police.
Tawanda Jones: A Caucasian family had that same damned lawyer at that same damn table, and they offered them $1.2 million for their animal, a dog! You trying to tell me a dog’s life was worth more than my brother’s? And my sisters and brothers on the street? You actually think I’m going to sit there and continue hearing the conversation? Mm-hmm (negative). Take me off right now!
Eze Jackson: I asked Tawanda if she would continue fighting for justice for her brother. Her response-
Tawanda Jones: Hell yeah!
Eze Jackson: For the Real News Network, this is Eze Jackson.