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Washington families share their experiences with police violence

Tyre Nichols Black Grief
Andrew Nelles/AP
Pool The Tennessean
RowVaughn Wells cries as she and her husband Rodney Wells attend the funeral service for her son Tyre Nichols at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tenn., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. Nichols died following a brutal beating by Memphis police after a traffic stop.

News of yet another Black man killed by police has garnered national attention again. Tyre Nichols was a 29-year-old Black man recently killed by Memphis police officers. While the details of what happened to Nichols are unique, for some, the story feels familiar.

Sonia Joseph's son, Giovonn Joseph-McDade was killed by a Kent, Wash. police officer in 2017. Jim Leighty's best friend, Craig Johnson, was killed by Bonner County, Idaho deputies in 2017. And Po Leapai's cousin, Iosia Faletogo, was killed by a Seattle police officer in 2018.

Joseph, Leighty, and Leapai are all members of the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability.

They each share the story of their loved ones and how their deaths have impacted them. Listen above.

Mayowa Aina reports and produces special projects, including podcasts and series, for KNKX. Mayowa started her public radio career at KUOW in Seattle. She's worked at NPR in Washington, D.C. and Alaska Public Media before moving back to her hometown of Tacoma to work at KNKX.
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  • The 2020 police killing of Manuel "Manny" Ellis, a Black man in Tacoma, brought a reckoning to Washington State and has set up what promises to be one of the highest-profile trials in Pacific Northwest history. The story is profiled in a new podcast, The Walk Home, produced by KNKX News and The Seattle Times.
  • The Rev. Al Sharpton, who delivered the eulogy, called for justice for Nichols and lamented the fact that Nichols was killed in the same city where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.
  • Law
    Washington's new Office of Independent Investigations, the first of its kind in the U.S., is still working to hire enough staff to start reviewing police use-of-force cases across the state. But in the meantime, a new hotline allows law enforcement agencies to report cases while the agency determines which cases will be investigated.

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