LOS ANGELES — John Thomas Horton III died in custody at the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail.
Only 22, Horton’s death was ruled a suicide in 2009. His mother, Helen Jones, doesn’t believe it.
Horton, whose death allegedly spawned the “scannergate” investigation in which a couple of Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies lost their jobs, was said to have suffered trauma to his body while in jail.
Jones wants justice for her son. The only way she will get the type of justice she is seeking is through legal recourse from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Jones has hooked up with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles to try to do that.
For the past couple of weeks, the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles branch has met and demonstrated on the front steps of the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice where Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey has her offices. The group is calling on Lacey to bring charges in officer-involved shootings and other cases where black people have died at the hands of law enforcement officials.
Jones would like to see more. Prosecution and a conviction would be a first step, she said.
“I’m still trying to seek justice to get criminal charges brought on the officers. They haven’t convicted nobody,” Jones said. “They haven’t brought no type of chargers on none of the officers. My son had a busted liver. He had a busted kidney. They [allegedly] hit him the head so hard with the flashlight, it left an imprint with the flashlight. …The coroner’s office said he had blunt force trauma. What they said, whether it was murder or suicide, they haven’t come to a conclusion [on] whether it was a murder or suicide.”
Melina Abdullah, who oversees the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles movement, wants Lacey to go harder in charging police officers. To prove her point, Abdullah managed to get more than 10,000 people to sign a petition supporting that notion.
So far, Abdullah and her Black Lives Matter colleagues have not been successful in getting the proper feedback from Lacey that they are seeking.
According to Abdullah, Cheryl Gaines, the deputy district attorney, had allegedly promised to sit and meet in a public setting with family members of those slain in officer-involved shootings.
“The lives of our people are not a game,” Abdullah said. “We’re going to continue to show up until she answers to that petition demand. Why has [District Attorney Lacey] not prosecuted a single officer who has killed our people?
“There have been 300 folks killed in the county of Los Angeles under her watch. She hasn’t prosecuted a single officer. And we need to know what she plans to do. … We are demanding that she prosecute the police who kill our people, and we need her to respond to that petition demand in a way that speaks to the office.
“As the chief prosecutor for the county of Los Angeles, she should not be locking up black folks, brown folks, feeding the prison industrial complex, while she is refusing to prosecute the police who kill our people.”
Lacey issued a statement to The Wave in response to the concerns raised by family members and the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles organization.
“It is understandable to feel that someone should be held accountable,” Lacey said. “My ethical and legal duty as district attorney is to ensure the law is applied fairly and that criminal charges are filed based solely on the facts and the law-not on emotion, anger or external pressure.”
Jones, Abdullah and the rest of the Black Lives Matter protesters expect to be out in front of Lacey’s office Nov. 10. Whether they will hear from the district attorney remains to be seen.