COLUMBIA — Her son was dead for 12 hours before she was notified by police he had been killed.
While searching for answers surrounding her son's death, Brandon Coleman's mother, Winona Coleman-Broadus, felt continually rebuffed by the Columbia Police Department, which she believes treated her differently because of her race.
"I don't feel like I was respected, that my questions were respected, or that they cared enough to give me any satisfaction," Coleman-Broadus said. "They didn't care. They showed no empathy, no sympathy. Nothing."
The Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence meeting took a somber tone Wednesday as Coleman-Broadus described the racial inequality and cultural insensitivity she felt she experienced from the police and what it's like to lose a son to gun violence.
Brandon Coleman was killed last year by Dustin Deacon. Deacon shot at Coleman four times with a shotgun, hitting him three times, after Coleman pointed a gun at Deacon's father.
Chief Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight did not charge Deacon with a crime after he determined that Deacon was legally justified in shooting Coleman under Missouri self-defense or defense of another laws.
Coleman-Broadus spoke primarily about how she was treated following the shooting, and said that race plays a factor when police departments choose to take action.
"I think that our legal system has a double standard," Coleman-Broadus said. "When an African-American person commits a crime, we are given the harshest punishment possible."
Referring to Deacon as a "menace to society" several times during her testimony, Coleman-Broadus said she and her son weren't treated the same as Deacon because of race. Coleman and Coleman-Broadus are black; Deacon is white.
"I don't feel like my son got a fair shake," Coleman-Broadus said. "I don't feel like I was served or protected."
Coleman-Broadus said her primary issues with the Police Department are a lack of respect and an unwillingness to foster meaningful discussion with the African-American community. Task force member Pam Hardin said she thought many other African-American mothers felt the same way.
Hardin said that because officers are not culturally diverse or sensitive, it's hard to create respect between police and the black community.
"In the African-American community, the trust issues are still there," Hardin said. "With each incident, such as what went on with Winona (Coleman-Broadus), it builds up more of a distrust."
Coleman-Broadus said the task force should focus on building a sense of community and establishing meaningful conversation between the black community and the Police Department.
"The things I endured were unnecessary," Coleman-Broadus said. "I deserved better."
Other agenda items
The task force also heard from Kelly Wallis, director of the Boone County Community Services Department. She addressed how the task force and other organizations or governmental agencies could receive funds from the Children's Services Fund, which was created by a quarter-cent county sales tax increase passed in 2012. Although the fund is not directly related to community violence, $6.5 million is available.
The task force also set the final version of the agenda for its upcoming work session, which is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 210 Ray Young Drive. The meeting is open to the public, though there is no public comments section scheduled.
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