Bonus Episode: Say Her Name Series Part 3- Rekia Boyd, Yvette Smith, Shantel Davis and Atatiana Jefferson


While we stand for justice, dignity and honor of the black life all too often the names of black women senselessly murdered by law enforcement are glazed over. We have a duty and responsibility  as Black women and hosts of a podcast that advocate and amplify the voices of black women to bring awareness and shed light  on the sisters who are no longer with us. We will always and forever SAY HER NAME.

 Rekia Boyd

Boyd was born on November 5, 1989, in Chicago, Illinois. She moved with her family from Chicago’s Southside to Dolton, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. On March 21, 2012, Boyd was hanging out with friends at Douglas Park on Chicago’s West Side at a party listening to music while having a few drinks.  Around 1:00 am,  22 year old Boyd and some of her friends walk to a nearby cornerstore. Around that same time, Servin who was just finishing his shift on his second job was off duty, heading to a fast food restaurant for a hamburger. Servin drove to Douglas Park after a citizen called police about a noise complaint. Servin saw Boyd and her friends and later claimed they were arguing in an alley.  Whether Servin calmly approached Boyd and her friends or was rude and aggressive is still debated. One of Boyd’s friends, Antonio Cross, claimed that Servin attempted to buy drugs from the group. When Cross told Servin to “get his Crackhead ass out of here,” Servin pulled a gun, stuck it out of the window of his car and fired into the group, hitting Boyd in the head.  She was instantly killed and Cross was wounded in the hand.

After the shooting, the Chicago Police Department defended Servin’s actions and arrested Cross. The Police Department claimed that Servin had discharged his weapon after Cross had approached him with a gun.  Upon investigation it was discovered that Cross was holding a cellphone.

In November 2013, Servin was charged with involuntary manslaughter but was cleared of all charges two years later on April 20, 2015, by Judge Dennis J. Porter following a non-jury trial. On November 24, 2015, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy called for Dante Servin to be fired by the Chicago Police Board.  On May 17, 2016, Servin resigned from the police force. The city of Chicago also paid $4.5 million to the Boyd family. Boyd’s death at the hands of Chicago Police Officer Dante Servin would help inspire the Black Lives Matter movement.

"They don’t talk about women that much when they get killed by the police. They barely talk about women. Why is that? It’s crazy, because you see that even in death, women play the second role."

                                                              - Martinez Sutton, Rekia Boyd’s brother

 Yvette Smith

On the 16th of January 2014, mother of 3 Yvette Smith was shot in her friend’s home by Daniel Willis, the officer coming to settle a disturbance.. She was seemingly trying to act as a peacemaker during a dispute between a father and a son that involved a gun. She called 911 about half an hour after midnight. When Bastrop County police arrived at the house, at least one of the men was in the front yard and the worst of the disturbance had seemed to be over.

The disagreement was settled before the officers arrived. The owner of the home Mr. Willie Thomas was outside when police arrived The officers issued verbal commands for the other occupants to exit the property. Yvette Smith was shot three seconds after the door was opened as shown by body camera footage. She was shot twice by the deputy sheriff’s with his personal AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle. The officers claimed she threatened them with a gun despite no weapons being found within the home. The dispatcher claimed the opposite and Thomas said it was false information. In April 2016 Daniel Willis, a former Texas police deputy, was found not guilty of murder.

The family filed for wrongful death suit and settled with 1.22 million in compensation. However, Daniel Willis still walks a free man who killed an innocent unarmed black woman. The case raised broad issues about police accountability and questions about police recruiting standards and the general conduct of the sheriff’s department.


 Shantel Davis

On June 14, 2012, Shantel Davis, a 23-year-old African-American woman, was fatally shot by New York City,  New York Police Department (NYPD) officer Phil Atkins. She was unarmed, and her death occurred while the national discussion of police brutality was gaining publicity in the wake of similar killings. That debate led to the creation of the Black Lives Matter Movement  the following year.

Two plainclothes police officers saw Davis driving erratically and pursued her vehicle. Once her car came to a stop after colliding with a minivan, the officers got out of their car and approached on foot.

Davis opened her passenger side door, knocking one officer to the ground. She then got back into the driver’s seat. Believing that Davis was trying to drive away, and with the car moving backwards, Detective Phil Atkins reached into her car and tried to shift it into park. While they struggled for control, Atkins shot her once in the chest.

When the officers asked her to exit the car, she stumbled out while bleeding profusely onto the pavement in front of a large crowd. One witness, George Ricketts, said that Davis cried out that she didn’t want to die, and a woman attempted to comfort her. Despite paramedics’ attempts to revive her, Davis was later pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital.

According to East Flatbush residents, the officer who killed Davis had a history of brutality. 

At the time of her death, her friends and family said that Shantel was trying to get her GED and turn her life around. While police alleged that Davis had been trying to escape when she was shot, several witnesses stated that she was trapped behind an airbag and was not attempting to get away. 

In 2017, Shantel’s family reports that there have been no investigations into her death or the officer who killed her, despite multiple attempts to follow up with the Brooklyn District Attorney office.


  Atatiana Jefferson

Atatiana Jefferson, had been up late playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew, in her final moments leading up to her fatal shot by an officer, Aaron Y. Dean, who was standing in her backyard with a flashlight and a gun. He would go on to resign two days later, hours before the police chief had planned to fire him.

Jefferson who was 28 at the time of her death, graduated from Louisiana's Xavier University in 2014 with a degree in biology and worked in the field of pharmaceutical equipment sales. She was planning and saving for medical school. Atatiana was a loving aunt who would play basketball and video games with her nephews, and recently moved in with her mother to care for her as she had health problems. Her (mother) learned about her daughter’s shooting while in a hospital.

In the moments leading up to the shooting, one of Ms. Jefferson’s neighbors, called a nonemergency line at 2:23 a.m. on Saturday to check on the safety of the residents after spotting the door open. Two officers responding to the call parked a block away from Ms. Jefferson’s house before unlatching a fence door and entering the backyard. According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Jefferson told her nephew she heard someone outside moments before the shooting, so she got her handgun from her purse and pointed it out a window.

Dean, who never identified himself as a police officer despite yelling for Jefferson to put her hands up, according to the affidavit, fired through the window, killing Jefferson.

As previously stated, Aaron Dean resigned before he could be fired. He was arrested and in December 2019 he was indicted by the Texas grand jury for murder, however the trial has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

"My God, I was so happy to know that the man that shot and killed my daughter is going to be indicted for murder," said Yolanda Carr, Jefferson's mother. She went on to say that "Justice was served on that part, but I know we got a long way to go," "I'm so glad that they finally indicted that man on murder because he murdered my baby."


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[music: "Fly" by Makaih Beats