Fort Worth

Activists call for African-American community to ‘boycott the city’ after March killing

Activists protest no arrest in Fort Worth neighbor shooting

Activists from Fort Worth and Dallas marched from City Hall to the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday, April 9, to demand charges be brought against Mark Jabben, who is accused of fatally shooting his neighbor Kevin Battle.
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Activists from Fort Worth and Dallas marched from City Hall to the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday, April 9, to demand charges be brought against Mark Jabben, who is accused of fatally shooting his neighbor Kevin Battle.

A group of activists are asking that the African-American community of Fort Worth boycott local businesses and an upcoming art festival until an arrest is made in a March homicide.

Kevin Battle, 57, was fatally shot by his neighbor, Mark Jabben, on March 25, the Fort Worth Police Department has said.

Police say that physical evidence corroborates Jabben’s claim of using self-defense. The case will be presented to a grand jury to determine whether Jabben should face any charges.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has been unable to reach Jabben for comment.

However, Battle’s family, including his son Kevin Battle II, have said that the narrative of Battle’s death released by police doesn’t seem right, based on what his son witnessed and his lifestyle.

Jabben, the family has said, called Battle’s 5-year-old grandson the N-word that afternoon. When his grandson told Battle about the slur, Battle knocked on Jabben’s door to confront him, Battle II has said. Battle II said he was able to see his father from his position inside the duplex, but not Jabben. He heard the two talk, and then heard gunshots.

Battle was shot in the face and head, the medical examiner’s office determined.

Officer Jimmy Pollozani, a spokesperson for the police department, said that, “Battle is believed to have attempted to enter into Jabben’s residence during the argument when Jabben fired three shots, striking Battle in the head.”

Battle was not armed. He was holding his grandson’s hand, Battle II said.

A week before the shooting, Jabben is also accused of calling Battle by the N-word, the family said.

The Star-Telegram requested a copy of that police report and a spokesperson from the department told the newspaper to make an open records request. The open records request for that report, and any other police reports made from either Battle or Jabben’s side of the duplex, has not been filled as of this reporting.

On Tuesday afternoon, Donnell Ballard, an activist in Fort Worth, organized a press conference and march to protest the decision not to arrest and charge Jabben.

“The right thing to do is to get this family justice,” Ballard said. “We will not sleep or rest until this family gets what they need to get. This man did not deserve to die. We are asking the city, we are asking the Tarrant County District Attorney and we are asking the Fort Worth Police Department to do the right thing. (Jabben) should have already been arrested. We are angry. We are upset. The family cannot sleep. We have a 5-year-old child who is scared of people now because of this.”

He then asked the African-American community to “boycott the city” by abstaining from eating out and by not attending the Main Street Art Festival, which begins on Thursday.

“Until an arrest is made, we will continue to be out here,” he said. “We’re angry and upset ... We just had a man who was trying to figure out what was going on. ‘What did you say to my grandchild?’ That’s what he was asking for.”

Battle’s fiancée, Talydia Adams, spoke shortly on Tuesday.

“(Jabben) left us hurting and we want him arrested now,” she said before crying.

Olinka Greene, who is from Dallas and said she protested before ex-Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was charged with murder in the death of Botham Jean, said she came to Fort Worth on Tuesday to express solidarity between the two cities.

“We cannot allow this white privilege to continue,” she said. “(Battle) was a protector. We need to get with the program and stop prolonging this.

“In seeking justice for his grandson, he was murdered,” she said, adding that Jabben’s freedom sends a message to Battle’s grandson that his life doesn’t matter.

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Nichole Manna is an investigative reporter for the Star-Telegram. Before moving to Fort Worth in July 2018, she covered crime and breaking news in Tennessee, North Carolina, Nebraska and Kansas. She is a 2012 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and grew up in Florida.
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