Dozens gathered in St. Paul on Sunday afternoon to protest the decision not to charge the St. Paul police officers who shot and killed Cordale Handy in March on the street outside a Dayton's Bluff apartment.
On Friday, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi cleared the two officers who shot Handy, who allegedly pointed his pistol at them in the early morning hours of March 15. Before police arrived, Handy, 29, of Waukegan, Ill., had been involved in a domestic dispute with his girlfriend, firing 16 shots inside a St. Paul apartment building.
Black Lives Matter and other groups organized the Justice 4 Cordale Handy event, held at the East Side Enterprise Center in St. Paul.
Handy's mother, Kimberly Handy Jones, spoke, as did community organizers and family members of others shot by police in Minnesota.
"Police, John Choi, whoever, don't ever ask me to fall back — no, I'm going to spring forward," Handy Jones said. "You don't get to kill my son and all these other sons and daughters of ours and think we're supposed to turn our back and tell you it's OK."
Handy Jones, visiting from Illinois, shared memories of her son, including his patience with kids and how he would rub her feet. She recalled once buying him the latest Air Jordans, only to find out that he gave the sneakers to a bullied boy. "He was a child who just loved life, but most of all he loved people," Handy Jones said.
Corydon Nilsson, a representative of activist group New North, said he questions the narrative police shared about the incident, including whether the gun was actually present at the scene of Handy's shooting, as police said, and why Handy was shot when his girlfriend told authorities his gun was not loaded.
"In our opinion, Cordale's death was more than avoidable," Nilsson said. "We need to start talking about mental health crises in nonwhite communities."
Witnesses had reported to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension that Handy was "a little off" that night and seemed to be hallucinating, and video shows him walking erratically. Tests showed that Handy had THC and another drug, N-ethyl pentylone, in his system.
A representative of the group Justice for Justine [Ruszczyk Damond] spoke, as did Jaffort Smith's mother, Matilda.
Damond was shot near her home in Minneapolis in July after calling 911 to report a possible sexual assault. No charges have been brought against the Minneapolis police officer involved in that shooting.
St. Paul police fatally shot Smith in May 2016 after he shot and wounded a woman and refused to drop his weapon. No charges were brought against the four officers who fired their guns in that incident. The message from those family members: Police need to be held accountable when they take a life.