Missouri black man executed despite possible evidence of racism
This comes after the Missouri Supreme Court refused to stop the execution of a Black man convicted of allegedly killing a police officer in 2005, despite signs of racial bias at the scene.
A man convicted of murder was executed on Tuesday in the midwestern US state of Missouri, with no regard to evidence findings of racism.
Kevin Johnson, a 37-year-old African American man, was sentenced to death in 2005 for the alleged murder of a white police officer in a St. Louis suburb.
According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, Johnson was executed by lethal injection in a prison in the town of Bonne Terre. He was pronounced dead at 7:40 pm local time, according to the report.
Missouri lynched a man today. Fly High Kevin Johnson. pic.twitter.com/MYivHgMiQ2— Tef Poe the 🐐 (@TefPoe) November 30, 2022
Corionsa "Khorry" Ramey, Johnson's daughter, sued to be allowed to witness her father's execution, but a federal court denied her request because she is under the state's minimum age of 21.
"I'm heartbroken that I won't be able to be with my dad in his last moments," Ramey said in a statement following the court decision.
On July 5, 2005, two hours after Johnson's 12-year-old brother died from a seizure, he was convicted of shooting and killing a white police sergeant.
Police officers served an arrest warrant on Johnson at the time, and he blamed the cops for his brother's death. Johnson's attorneys filed last-minute appeals in an attempt to save his life, saying his 2007 conviction was tainted by racial bias.
Even though a special prosecutor found that racism was a "decisive factor" in Kevin Johnson's death sentence and that it should be vacated, he was executed tonight in Missouri.— Keri Blakinger (@keribla) November 30, 2022
Here's a statement from his laywers: pic.twitter.com/Pqx4h95CHV
A special prosecutor appointed to investigate the case requested that the execution be postponed, citing evidence of racial discrimination on the part of the state prosecutor. But the Missouri Supreme Court rejected the request late Monday.
Pressure of testimony
According to a report by The Intercept, the claim was supported by scant evidence. One witness, Anthony Davis, 19, who knew Johnson from the neighborhood, "agreed to testify against Johnson only after being arrested at the courthouse, where McCulloch's office investigators claimed Davis was intimidating witnesses."
Furthermore, despite the fact that no witnesses reported being intimidated, Davis was arrested and his bond was set at $100,000. Davis admitted on the stand at trial that he was testifying to resolve his own legal issues; his version of events conflicted with what others said.
The report adds that several witnesses did appear hesitant to testify against Johnson. Some had given police statements which they recanted when called to testify. While McCulloch told the jury that Johnson had threatened them, it was also possible that police had intimidated witnesses.
Additionally, one woman who had been visiting family in Meacham Park on the night of the murder testified that, contrary to what she had told police, she had not seen Johnson shoot McEntee.
“I felt scared. I felt they was intimidating me, pressuring me,” she said.
This is not the first time US police convicted or targeted a citizen based on race. Although the evidence isn't all intact to confirm the execution and arrest were based on racial discrimination, the US police have a long history of unlawfully arresting African-American or Latin-American citizens.
In a tweet on Twitter, Congresswoman Cori Bush accused the State of Missouri of "failing" Kevin Johnson.
Missouri failed Kevin Johnson.— Congresswoman Cori Bush (@RepCori) November 29, 2022
From systemic racism tainting his conviction to a judge preventing his daughter from witnessing his execution to @GovParsonMO’s cold-hearted refusal to grant #ClemencyforKJ, MO officials have chosen inhumane capital punishment over saving lives.
Earlier in September, following an FBI investigation, reported by CNN, links to white nationalist organizations and Nazi philosophy, were uncovered, leading to the ousting from the US army of a former soldier whom prosecutors allege enrolled to become better at killing black people.
According to court documents, Killian M. Ryan was arrested on August 26 and charged with one count of knowingly making a false statement on his application for a secret security clearance. He was dismissed from the Army on the same day for "serious misconduct", according to Lt. Col. Terence Kelley, an Army spokesperson.
Prosecutors said Ryan used social media to communicate with extremists, including the alarming allegation about why he opted to join the military.