My name is Jasmine Groves and I am the youngest of three children of Kim Marie Groves. A former New Orleans police officer Len Davis put a hit on my mother in retaliation for her witnessing him beat a teenager in our neighborhood and filing a complaint against him. The day my mother reported Officer Davis was the day before my 13th birthday. About 3:30pm, she called the office to file the complaint, and it usually took 24 to 72 hours for an officer to be notified of a complaint against them. Unfortunately, Davis knew within hours of my mother filing the complaint; by the time she made it home that night, the hit to take her life was already set.
Because it was the night before my birthday, my mom was planning my party. My cousin and I were having a sleepover, and we were playing cards. My mom came into the room and started singing “happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you.” I smiled the whole time she sang because she always made me feel special. For some crazy reason, it felt like she knew she would not get to wish me a happy birthday the next day. After she walked out of the door, within seconds, the phone rang. I was always the one to run to answer it, but that time I wish I hadn’t. As I said hello, all I heard was a woman voice screaming into the phone, “Kim has just been shot and I think she's dead!”
At that moment, my heart stopped, I was stiff. I could not think, I could not talk, I was stuck. I was wishing she’d say “She had it wrong; it was a mistake.” I dropped the phone and ran screaming to my family. As we all ran out of the door, we saw my mother’s body lying in the street, lifeless, her eyes still open. She had the biggest hole in her head that you could see straight through it, her brains were on the ground next to her. As people consoled us, my grandfather picked up her brains, brought it to the levee, and placed it into the water. I took that as him setting her free, and accepting that she was not going to make it. As I dialed 911 for help, it took them forever.
The next day, I still pushed myself to go to school even thought that didn’t last long. I tried to still face life as normally as I could, but nothing was normal about my life anymore. Only a few months later did I learn that the same people I called to help save my mother were the ones who killed my mother. I lost all trust in the police. I remember that “to protect and serve” was always on NOPD’s police cars and now it’s not anymore. I take it as a sign of them no longer protecting and serving. 26 years later after my mother’s murder, my mother’s murderer still appeals his sentence, and meanwhile, the rate of police killings of Black citizens has increased. Police corruption has gotten so bad that it seems like it's normal and that is a sad truth. I feel it's injustice, where justice is delayed and denied.
My mother died because she stood up for her civil rights and the young people in the Lower 9th Ward. Taking a stand should not mean taking a death sentence. In order to stop these justiciable corrupted cop killings, we need more police to love their job and take a stand with the people. Our voice must become one. I truly believe that citizens and police officers must trust each other instead of working against each other. Without this happening, all I see is failure and chaos. We cannot have police feeling that they are above the law. Just as police cars have "TO PROTECT AND SERVE," that should also be reflected in their policies.
Jasmine Groves is the president of Families Overcoming Injustice and participated in the ACLU of Louisiana’s virtual Town Hall about Justice Lab: Putting Racist Policing on trial.