Detroit Mother Says Cops Killed Her Unarmed Mentally Ill Son, 35-Year-Old Kevin Matthews

A 35-year-old unarmed black man, Kevin Matthews, was fatally gunned down on Wednesday by suburban Detroit police, reports the Washington Post. On Thursday, the victim’s mother, Valerie Johnson, said that her son was suffering from mental illness and did not pose a threat to the officers. Johnson, 57 years old, revealed to the Associated Press that her son Kevin had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

She revealed how torn up she was in a phone interview while she was receiving grief counseling inside of a Detroit church.

“It’s kind of rough on me,” she said. “I miss my baby. He was shot for nothing. He was a good guy. He was a good son, not a bad person.”

Detroit authorities claim that Kevin Matthews was somehow involved in a theft that was followed by a foot chase between him and police on Wednesday, which led to the fatal shooting of Matthews. Johnson denies the claims and the family questions the police. Apparently, Matthews was being pursued by Detroit authorities based on a misdemeanor warrant from Redford Township, and police claim Matthews was killed after struggling with an officer in a backyard near Dearborn city limits.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said that the officer who shot Matthews received some minor injuries during their physical altercation, and that his uniform was ripped in the process. He was treated at a local hospital. Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad declined to offer any information regarding the officer involved, including how long he has been working for the department, stating, “it’s an ongoing investigation.”

In a news release, Dearborn police said the suspect was “known to be wanted on a probation violation warrant, and who escaped from officers earlier in the day after committing a larceny in Dearborn.”

“The officer chased the subject and encountered him several houses away in Detroit, where a struggle ensued,” according to the news release. “Subsequently, the officer fired his department-issued weapon, striking the subject.”

“For the sake of Kevin’s family, and for the peace and safety of our community, we believe suspension of the officer is necessary until the facts are known,” Ken Reed, spokesman for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, said Thursday.

“We remain vigilant about these shootings, and will withhold any other statements until our investigators have completed a fact-finding,” Reed continues. “We want to make sure that proper procedures were followed and will continue to monitor Dearborn and Detroit police departments relative to this incident.”

“My son was on his way to see about me when he was shot down,” Valerie Johnson said. “He was coming to see about his mother. They shot my son for nothing. He didn’t have no weapon.”

Reverend Charles Williams II, senior pastor at the Historic King Solomon Baptist Church of Detroit and president of the National Action Network’s Greater Detroit chapter, held a press conference Thursday with the family of Kevin Matthews to discuss the tragic shooting. Williams said protests involving the National Action Network and other organizations are scheduled to take place in Dearborn next year, on January 4. Williams wants the officer to be held accountable for the death of Matthews, declaring that they will not rest until justice is served.

“We won’t get no rest until that dirty, nasty officer, that evil officer, is sitting in a jail cell here in the state of Michigan,” Williams said.

During the press conference, Williams made it known that Matthews was known in the community and had suffered a broken arm in November after getting hit by a car.

The death of Kevin Matthews is another random tragedy in an incredibly long string of unarmed black men dying at the hands of police officers during the last year and a half.

Over 100 protesters shut down a terminal at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport, temporarily, on Wednesday to protest the death of Jamar Clark, shot by Minneapolis police. Protests in Chicago are being held for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot by a white officer 16 times, after police dashcam footage showed McDonald walking away from police officers.

[Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images]