The family of Delrawn Small, an unarmed man killed by NYPD Officer Wayne Isaacs, crammed into a Brooklyn courtroom on Monday, leaning forward with arms over the seats in front of them when a note made its way to the judge: “We the jury have reached a verdict.”
Three days and a not-guilty verdict later, the family was joined by over 100 supporters on the streets of Manhattan’s Union Square on Thursday night.
The message was clear: “We the people are making the call, fire Wayne Isaacs for Delrawn Small!”
The off-duty officer acquitted of murder and manslaughter for the July 4, 2016 shooting fueled the voices of protesters echoing down the narrow streets of Manhattan.
“At a point on Monday, I didn’t know what I was gonna do. I sat in that courtroom overwhelmed and I was overwhelmed because I realized my brother got killed twice,” Victor Dempsey, Small’s brother, yelled to the crowd. “Just not getting a guilty verdict that day told me that not only killing him was enough — to emphasize the fact that his life didn’t matter, that’s not something I could live with.”
Activist groups including Black Lives Matter, Communities United for Police Reform, Voice NY and Citizen Action of New York, joined the family that night and demanded Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill fire Isaacs, despite his acquittal.
“Hey hey, ho ho, Wayne Isaacs has got to go!” protesters chanted while marching around the park as waves of police marched in single file next to them.
Signs adorned with the messages, “Justice for Delrawn Small,” “No Justice, no Peace” and “The Whole Damn System: Guilty!” caught the eye of spectators who chanted along.
The Guyanese native will remain on non-enforcement duty without a weapon while NYPD conducts an internal investigation, an NYPD spokesperson said.
“The date that the verdict came out, I was numb. I’m still a little numb but I’m really pissed off, and I think that it was just a blatant disrespect for our whole family and all the other families fighting for justice,” Zaquanna Albert, Small’s girlfriend, said.
Albert, Small and their two children were driving home from a barbecue when the officer who had just clocked out of work allegedly cut them off in traffic on Atlantic Avenue.
When both cars reached a red light on Atlantic and Bradford Street, Small approached Isaacs, who retaliated with three shots from his off-duty gun, killing Small in no more than 10 minutes.
The jury found that Isaacs was acting in self-defense, justifying the shooting.