Gregory Frazier was eating chicken wings in his backyard on Friday following a domestic disturbance when he was shot and killed by a police officer, and the Florida shooting has now drawn outrage and accusations that the killing was racially charged.
Frazier’s sister called police on Friday night as Frazier and another family member were in a heated argument, the New York Daily News reported.
The argument was over by the time two officers from the Broward County Sheriff’s office arrived, and Frazier was reportedly sitting down eating chicken wings. As a family member told the Broward Palm Beach New Times, police officers then escalated the situation.
“Quartaze Woodard, Frazier’s nephew, who was at the scene, says three deputies showed up and told Frazier to get down on the ground. Frazier responded, ‘Leave me alone.’ The deputies repeated the order. Again, Frazier asked them to leave him alone. After that, Woodard says, the officers shot him. Then, after handcuffing him, and removing the handcuffs once they realized he was non-responsive, they attempted to perform CPR. It was too late.”
Police claimed that Frazier was holding a small, rusted Swiss Army-style knife, but family members said he was not posing any threat. Adding to the controversy, neighbors claimed that police officers had shot Gregory Frazier in the back six times.
The shooting death of Gregory Frazier has prompted outrage across the Palm Beach area, with community activists calling for an investigation and potential criminal charges against the police officers who opened fire on him.
Some local residents have also complained that the police force is not a good representation of the community. Friends of the Frazier family noted that all the officers who responded to the scene of the domestic disturbance on Friday night were white.
“It’s too much,” Sarahca Peterson, a Frazier family friend and a community activist, told the Broward Palm Beach New Times. “There has to be change. They need to face criminal charges. If I kill someone, I’m going to jail. They shouldn’t be out there on the streets.”
Family members also regret their role in the incident, with Gregory Frazier’s sister telling the Broward Palm Beach New Times that she feels guilty for having called police in the first place. Family members said that Gregory was drunk and had gotten a bit rowdy before the 911 call, knocking over furniture in the backyard, but was not violent.
“I never would have called the cops if I’d known this was going to happen,” Deborah Frazier says. “They just came in and started shooting right away.”
Deborah Frazier told the Sun-Sentinel that her brother worked in landscaping and had an adult son in Atlanta. She said he was the “life of the party,” and often enjoyed sitting on his porch listening to a boombox.
Gregory Frazier also had a history with police, including a series of arrests and what the Sun-Sentinel called “several brief stints in prison.” He had been out of jail for more than a decade, however, with his last stint coming for cocaine possession in 2004.
The death of Gregory Frazier comes amid a series of other high-profile police killings of black men, all under equally murky circumstances. Several weeks ago, there were two such killings in the span of a few days that drew the national spotlight on the issue — the shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and of Philando Castile in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.
These shootings have also been back in the news thanks to a protest started by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been taking a knee during the national anthem of his team’s games to protest abuses against the black community. Others have joined Kaepernick in his protest, including Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office is now investigating the shooting death of Gregory Frazier, and the deputies involved have been placed on administrative leave.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]