South Florida police fatally gunned down a black man as he sat in his backyard eating dinner, calling into question the lack of de-escalation tactics of local law enforcement officers amid national scrutiny.
Broward Sheriff’s deputies responded to a domestic violence call Friday evening at the home of Gregory Frazier in Pompano Beach. His sister, Deborah, had called authorities after she claimed Frazier, 56, and his daughter were involved in a fight.
However, the fight had reportedly ended by the time the officers arrived at the home. The two white deputies were directed to the backyard, where they found Frazier eating.
Officers ordered Frazier to get on the ground, to which he responded, “Leave me alone,” according to his nephew Quartaze Woodard. When order to the ground once more, Frazier gave them the same response. Police then opened fire, according to Mr Woodard.
Police handcuffed the wounded Frazier, before attempting to perform CPR. Officers reported that Frazier was dead at the scene.
Frazier’s neighbour, Pastor Miguel Rosa, said he heard at least five shots, which he initially thought were fireworks.
“I never would have called the cops if I’d known this was going to happen,” Ms Frazier told the New Times Broward-Palm Beach. “They just came in and started shooting right away.”
Ms Frazier told dispatchers that her brother had been holding a knife – a small pocket knife she said he always carried – but it remains unclear whether or not Frazier was holding the knife when police were on the scene. A representative for the Broward Sheriff’s Office could not comment on this detail when asked by The Independent, citing an active and ongoing criminal investigation.
Frazier’s death sparked criticism of law enforcement in the area, with calls for de-escalation by police and a force that better resembles the populace.
“It’s too much,” said Sarahca Peterson, family friend of the Fraziers and community activist. “There has to be change. They need to face criminal charges. If I kill someone, I’m going to jail. They shouldn’t be out there on the streets."