Cops, Courts & Prisons


Originally published in the Summer 2020 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 62, printed August 14. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Summer 2020 issue or download the full PDF, see this post. For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.

Participants in the latest “Angel Walk” march to the Hopewell police station. Photo by Queen Zakia Shabazz.

By Queen Zakia Shabazz

June 23 would have been Angel DeCarlo’s 33rd birthday – if she hadn’t been fatally shot by a Hopewell police officer on Dec. 19, 2018.

Angel’s family, friends and supporters marked the occasion by holding another in a series of “Angel Walks” to remember the young woman and continue to demand justice for her. This walk, held on Saturday, June 20, drew more than 100 people chanting ”Justice for Angel!” and “Black Lives Matter!” The event was hosted by Angel’s mother, evangelist and former special education teacher Emily DeCarlo.

The walk began at the scene of Angel’s death in the 600 block of Elm Street and traveled more than a mile to Ashford Civic Plaza, right across from the Hopewell police station, where several officers stood watching the procession.

Standing socially distanced, Angel’s supporters stood at the plaza and listened as speakers took turns paying tribute to Angel’s life. Her mother was the first to speak, reciting a poem titled “One Tiny Tear.”

The rally’s featured speaker was state Senator Joe Morrissey, who stated that he would introduce legislation to create a mental health court. Angel struggled with mental health issues and may have been experiencing a crisis when she was killed. Morrissey also stated his support for a community service board “with teeth,” the prohibition of the commonly used (by police) choke hold and a registry of bad cops.

First Lady Bell of Hopewell’s Jesus Christ Holiness Church of God told the Defender that Angel’s death was a “wake-up call.”

“We have been in the community six years and have seen some devastation, some signs that we need to improve in our Black community,” she said. “Angel DeCarlo’s death really hurt and hit us hard. We need to be more proactive in the house, in making decisions in our lawmaking. We have been lax. but now it’s time for us to stand up and say the things we have been fearing to say: That we matter, that our vote matters. If our money matters, then our vote matters. That’s why I’m here to speak for Angel, ‘cause she’s no longer here to speak for herself.”

There has been no justice for Angel. The police officer who shot and killed her has not been charged and, according to her mother, is still a member of the Hopewell Police Department. Angel’s death was the third officer involved fatal shooting in Hopewell in the previous four years.

The advocacy organization United Parents Against Lead continues to demand:

● Full transparency and criminal charges for the officer who killed Angel

● Release of the police body cam and dash cameras from the scene on Elm Street

● Community training of police officers to include implicit bias and respect for life

● NAMI or other reputable mental health crisis de-escalation training for police officers

● Mandatory periodic lead testing of all police officers who handle munitions

Queen Zakia Shabazz is the founder and national director of United Parents Against Lead, which advocates for lead-free environments for children and their families. For information:

Categories: Cops, Courts & Prisons

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