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The District neighborhood of Trinidad had so many murders in 2008 that D.C. police decided to set up checkpoints along its perimeter—roadblocks the U.S. Court of Appeals later deemed unconstitutional.
Yet, as Johnny Barnes of the American Civil Liberties Union points out, “the only homicide in Trinidad last year was at the hands of the police.”
It’s a year and one day since Trey Joyner, 25, was mowed down by police bullets, and family members of the slain Trinidad resident are still waiting for an update on the investigation. Relatives, along with some fuming local activists, gathered in front of the John A. Wilson building on Wednesday to point out as much.
Dressed in the coveralls of his workplace, Travis Joyner wanted to know why authorities had yet to reveal what they’d discovered about the circumstances surrounding his brother’s death. The family only knows that on June 8, 2009, Trey Joyner was killed by plainclothes park police, allegedly after he pulled a gun.
Eyewitnesses have contradicted an assertion made by cops that after a struggle in an alley, Joyner turned a gun on a group of U.S. Park Police officers who were in Trinidad as part of an inter-agency task force led by the FBI. Witnesses’ claim that Joyner was shot in the back would also seem to contradict the cops’ account.
“I’m to the point that I’m very frustrated, that our family hasn’t gotten any answers,” Joyner tells City Desk. “To me it’s very sad, because I feel as though if it had happened in another area of Washington, D.C. like Dupont Circle of Upper Northwest, I believe that the investigation would have been over.”
Joyner says the local U.S. Attorney’s office, which was investigating the tragedy, contacted the family a week after the shooting, but not one time after. The investigation has now been taken over by federal prosecutors in Philadelphia.
Joyner says his family has tried to contact Mayor Adrian Fenty to see if he could help get answers, but the mayor wasn’t interested. Cousin Patrice Lancaster hounded the Mayor’s office about her deceased relative, and says she was hung up on three times. Eventually, someone who identified herself as “an administrative assistant” to the mayor told her “that Mayor Fenty didn’t want to have anything to do with my cousin’s case,” she says.
“Not true,” mayoral spokesperson Mafara Hobson says of Lancaster’s story via email.
Trey Joyner’s father, Walter Joyner, his voice wavering, called for an end to the violence: “I would just like to say, put yourself in my place and all of our brothers and sisters need to ban together and stop this police brutality that is happening on our streets killing our youth. That’s all I have to say right now.”
Staff photo by Rend Smith