Father of man killed by Fort Worth police talks about his son
The father of a man killed by Fort Worth police arrived in town Tuesday to collect his son’s belongings.
His stay will be short, the father, James Martin said.
The mother of the man who died, 20-year-old JaQuavion Slaton, is being treated for a brain aneurysm in an Ohio hospital. Martin’s mother is also suffering from a serious illness, he said.
“Things don’t look good for Jay’s mother,” Kyev Tatum, a Fort Worth pastor familiar with the family, said.
But Tuesday was Martin’s first opportunity to meet his 4-month-old grandson in person.
“He looks just like his father,” Martin said. “Just like my son.”
Martin, 38, of Ruston, La., said he was alerted to his son’s death by a relative who banged on his door at 3 a.m. the day after the shooting. Slaton was in Fort Worth to be with his girlfriend. Slaton was so happy to be a father, Martin said.
“A lot of things went through my mind,” Martin said. “I saw the video. I heard the gunshots on the video. I just put it in God’s hands. It’s hard knowing that my son was gunned down.”
Slaton’s death sparked protests and calls for police body and dash camera footage of Sunday’s shooting. Martin said he is encouraged by the support he is receiving from the Fort Worth community.
“If they are saying that he shot first, release the body cam,” Martin said. “That will show it.”
However, Fort Worth police said late Tuesday that it currently has “no plans” to release footage of the shooting. “The investigation is still ongoing,” said Officer Brad Perez, a department spokesman.
Martin said he visited the crime scene on Tuesday. He saw the bullet holes in the truck. He saw his son’s blood.
“I was young,” Martin said. “We all make mistakes. But what they said he did, he [Slaton] didn’t do. He didn’t want to go to jail. He was scared. And he had a gun too. My son did not raise a gun at police. He wouldn’t have done that. I wouldn’t have done that. That would be stupid. You know what’s going to happen.”
What police said
Police were called out to a disturbance involving a suspect with a felony warrant in the 4500 block of Jennifer Court about 4 p.m. Sunday and the man fled, according to a statement from police. Officers later saw Slaton in a car with two other people.
Raya Arzu, the mother of Slaton’s 4-month-old son, was driving. Slaton and 17-year-old Jevon Monroe ran from the car as police approached. Officers saw Slaton holding a handgun as they gave chase, police said.
Police found Monroe hiding under a car near 5200 E. Berry St. and he was arrested. Monroe was in the Tarrant County jail on Tuesday facing an evading arrest charge. Bond was set at $750.
Police found Slaton inside a truck parked in a back yard. Slaton did not obey police commands and as officers tried to break the glass of the truck, he “made an overt action placing the officers in fear for their lives,” according to the statement.
Three officers shot at Slaton, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Crime scene investigators found a handgun inside the truck, and evidence supports that Slaton fired the gun, according to police.
University of Texas at Tyler police were looking for Slaton in connection with an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon warrant and posted on social media seeking the public’s help finding him.
In the police Facebook post, Slaton was referred to as armed and dangerous. The aggravated assault involved a handgun and was reported on April 28.
Neither Slaton nor the victim ever attended the school, but the apartment complex where the assault allegedly occurred is on university property, said Lucas Roebuck, UT Tyler police spokesman.
Police on the Tyler campus had communicated with police in Fort Worth concerning the warrant for Slaton’s arrest, Roebuck said.
When Louisiana lawmakers passed sweeping prison reform measures in 2017, Slaton, at 18, was the youngest of more than 1,900 inmates released by the state, a story from The Advocate, a major daily Baton Rouge newspaper, said.
The laws were passed to save the state money by reducing the incarceration rate and to remove its designation as the state with the highest incarceration rate in the nation. Slaton had been convicted on an auto theft charge, The Advocate story said.
Police in the United States have shot and killed an estimated 406 people so far in 2019, about two people each day, according to reporting from the Washington Post. The Officer Down Memorial Page lists 52 police officers killed in the line of duty, which includes 21 who died from gunfire and one who died from inadvertent gunfire.
After Slaton told his father about the baby, Martin said he had the talk with him about stepping up, being responsible for his family, about getting a job and taking care of his son. Now that job will fall to someone else.
“I hate that for my son,” Martin said. “This has been going on. Innocent people get killed by police. The difference is people record it now.“
In officer-involved shootings involving death, the people who die are often demonized, Tatum said Monday during a prayer vigil at his church. When police officers are convicted of a crime it seems that the public is more merciful, Tatum said.
But everyone desires mercy, Tatum said.
“When something happens of this magnitude, the first priority of the police is to paint the accused as a villain, as a wanted felon, as a degenerate,” Tatum said. “Let’s not paint this person as someone who deserved to lose his life.”