Essie Justice Group Statement: The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Must Be Held Accountable For The Killing of Dana Mitchell Young Jr. (AKA Malik)

DMYJr. with grand daughter Harleigh

Essie Justice Group, the country’s leading organization of women with incarcerated loved ones, supports the family of Dana Mitchell Young Jr. (AKA Malik) in their fight for transparency and accountability. Essie joins Malik’s family in demanding the immediate firing of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Walker and the release of all documents and information related to Deputy Kevin Walker’s killing of their loved one Malik.

Dana Mitchell Young Jr. (AKA Malik) was a loved and loving father of five children and the grandfather of three grandchildren. Malik’s friends and family describe him as having been mellow, warm-hearted, loyal, helpful, and the type of person that would give the shirt off his back to help someone. 

On October 15, 2020, around 3:30 am, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Walker shot and killed Dana Mitchell Young Jr. (AKA Malik) at the rear fence of Woodcrest Elementary School. Deputy Kevin Walker, who was within six feet of Malik at the time he discharged his weapon, claims to have mistaken a COVID-19 style mask in Malik’s hand for a gun. Deputy Kevin Walker shot Malik four times once in the back of the head, lower abdomen, buttock, and, disturbingly, in the penis. After taking Malik’s precious life, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department left his body on the ground, behind an elementary school, for more than 14 hours.

Since the killing of their loved one, Malik’s family, with the support of Essie Justice Group, has tirelessly advocated for answers from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD). At every turn, LASD has obfuscated the facts, dodged accountability, disregarded state law, and has refused the family even basic human dignity. In addition to ignoring a Public Records Act request filed in November 2020, Los Angeles Sheriff’s has only provided scant explanation about the shooting. Family members and Essie advocates had to fight in order to get Malik’s body released for burial only to discover unexplained trauma, abrasions, and bullet holes, including to the back of his head and penis. 

Essie Justice Group elder, Khadijah Shabazz is the grandmother to one of Malik’s grandchildren and considered Malik to be her son. As a leading member of Essie Justice Group, Khadijah Shabazz has advocated for justice in the criminal legal system in CA for many years. Like countless Black women with incarcerated loved ones, her family has been devastated by the financial, emotional, and psychological impact of mass incarceration. Now she and all those who loved Malik face the compounding devastation of having a loved one killed by police. In LA County alone, 929 people have been killed by LA police since 2000. Malik’s family is one of a few families who know the name of the officer who killed their loved one. Deputy Kevin Walker’s name was released on May 24, 2021, several months after the killing and only after sustained advocacy by the family, Essie Justice Group and Check the Sheriff coalition.

Gina Clayton-Johnson, Essie’s Founder and Executive Director says:

“Ms. Khadijah has been a loving leader and ferocious fighter for justice ever since she joined the Essie. She is a valued member of our community of women with incarcerated loved ones, all of whom, be it through mass incarceration or police violence, have witnessed and experienced losing sons, daughters and family members to this system. Let there be no mistake, the criminal legal system’s harm is a race and gender justice issue. Black women are bearing the brunt of traumatic isolation, financial devastation, and psychological harm as a result of this system. We must demand long-overdue accountability for the LA Sheriff’s department.”

Similar to mass incarceration, the traumatic and disproportionate impacts of police violence on Black women are unacknowledged, under-studied, and invisibilized. In the wake of the killing of a loved one by police, it is often Black women we see on our screens screaming for justice. It is Black women who act as familial caretakers, unyielding researchers, de facto lawyers, emotional support systems, and the bearers of financial strain when a lost loved one also means lost wages. It is Black women who urge their children to give police deference so that they do not have a reason to kill you and it is Black women who bury their children when the police kill them anyway Malik was unarmed when Deputy Kevin Walker killed him.

The family of Dana Mitchell Young Jr. (AKA Malik) is demanding the immediate firing of LASD Deputy Kevin Walker and the release of all documents pertaining to the killing of Dana Mitchell Young Jr. (AKA Malik). Essie Justice Group supports and affirms these demands for accountability.