On the night Camden County Sheriff’s deputies killed her, Latoya James, an innocent mother, had committed no crime, had harmed no one, and was not wanted by police. These facts are irrelevant, however, as the police state—when carrying out its vile and destructive war on drugs—cares not about taking innocent lives in its mission to go after substances deemed illegal by authorities.
James’ family filed a lawsuit this week more than a year after she was gunned down on May 4, 2021. The lawsuit seeks $25 million in damages and names Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor and other deputies involved in James’ death.
On the night she was murdered, deputies were carrying out a search warrant on the home of Varshan Brown, James’ cousin, just before 5 a.m. on a Tuesday. Though deputies announced themselves as they invaded Brown’s private property, being shaken out of slumber at 4:00 a.m. to the sound of screaming men is disorienting and scary.
Protecting his home from armed invaders in the middle of the night, Brown grabbed a gun. Seconds later, multiple shots ring out—Latoya James is dead, Brown wounded, and no officers hurt.
Body camera footage from that night is obstructed by the officer’s bulletproof shield so we have no idea if Brown fired first or even fired his weapon at all. What we do know, however, is that the only bullets found in James’ body, were fired from police weapons.
Since that day, James’ family has been fighting for justice for the officers but earlier this year, they found out there will be none. In April, District Attorney Keith Higgins concluded that the deputies involved wouldn’t face charges, justifying the use of deadly force.
This is a point with which James’ family disagrees.
“It was under the dark of night,” Attorney Reginald Greene said. “It was unexpected. It was unlawful. It was unjustified. It was tragic.”
“We know the fact in this case that the bullet that struck Latoya James did not come from her cousin,” Attorney Bakari Sellers said. “Those bullets came from those sheriff’s deputies.’”
Given that the video shows deputies entering the residence immediately, lawyers claim that this was closer to a no-knock warrant than a search warrant, and they are right.
“I will point you directly to the statute that gives clear direction that’s been codified by the General Assembly in Atlanta, Georgia, that you have a knock and announce warrant,” Attorney Harry Daniels said. “You must give the person an opportunity to come to the door. You must at least get an opportunity for them to respond to the non-mission. The video is very clear and that didn’t happen.”
This incident is almost identical to the one that took place in Louisville, Kentucky a year prior when cops—enforcing the failed war on drugs—broke into the home of the innocent Breonna Taylor, and slaughtered her. Her boyfriend was suspected of having a little bit of a plant.
“I got to hear her tell me ‘I love you mommy’ for the last time the night before they took her life,” Latoya’s mother Betty James said at a press conference this week. “I can never hear that again.”
How many more innocent people must be sacrificed before the alter of the state’s drug war before we the people say, ‘enough is enough’? Those who continue to carry out this destructive and shameful war will be remembered by history as the villains and tyrants they are. They will be harshly judged by future generations forever cementing their seats on the wrong side of history.
This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.