“We are demanding that Wayne Isaacs is released from the NYPD,” Victor Dempsey said of the police officer who shot and killed his big brother last year. “We don’t think that it is fair to society and to us that a known killer gets to walk around with a badge and a gun.”
Thursday, Nov. 9, the family of police-shooting victim Delrawn Small will be gathering at Union Square, Manhattan at noon to demand justice for him. The family faced a harsh reality as the news was delivered that the killer of their beloved brother and father would get off scot-free.
In front of a stunned courtroom police officer Wayne Isaacs was acquitted on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter after three days of deliberation by a jury.
Victor Dempsey and Victoria Davis, the brother and sister of Small released a statement: “We are devastated and outraged that the jury failed to ensure justice by not holding NYPD officer Wayne Isaacs accountable for murdering our brother. What Wayne Isaacs did that night— immediately shooting and killing our brother as he approached his car and leaving him to bleed out and die, when he had so many other options—was murder, in cold blood.”
Several of Small’s family members wailed at the injustice that came at the conclusion of the two-week case inside and outside the Brooklyn Courthouse, along with activists who have been along for the journey.
Isaacs, 38, was initially charged in the July 4, 2016, death of Small, who was shot three times after a brief confrontation with Isaacs on Atlantic Avenue in East New York.
Isaacs argued that he feared for his life as Small approached the driver’s side window of his car.
Surveillance footage shows Small stumbling to the ground within seconds of approaching Isaacs’ car. Small’s girlfriend and two young children watched in horror as Isaacs fired three shots into Small. As Small laid on the ground, Isaacs exited his car and called a union rep rather than administer aid to Small, the prosecution argued.
Davis and Dempsey addressed the disappointment in the justice system and the lack of empathy for Black lives across America.
“Today, the justice system made a statement that it does not equally value Black life and the life of our brother Delrawn Small,” Davis said. “The fact that officer Isaacs was Black does not diminish the systemic issues of racialized fear and the criminalization of Blackness that allow a jury to consider the killing of an unarmed Black man by a police officer as justified. We heard it in the defense’s case that sought to paint our brother, the victim, as someone to be feared, playing into a historic, racialized fear of Black people in this country.”
The family is calling on the newly re-elected Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner O’Neill to fire officer Isaacs from the police department because they believe he is not fit to protect and serve as a police officer should.
“An officer, who is so trigger-happy that he immediately shoots not once, not twice but three times and kills a civilian simply approaching his car, is a threat to public safety,” Dempsey said. “I felt like I died [when I heard the verdict]. I cannot express it any other way. It literally felt like my brother was murdered twice. I was an overwhelming feeling. I was in shock. At that moment my whole spirt to fight was taken out of me. I could not move.”
As for his sister Victoria, he said, “She couldn’t even finish listening to the verdict. She fell out. We took a blow. We were able to get through the majority of this year because with the vision of getting justice, and at that moment we were stripped of that.”
Isaacs faced up to life in prison but will now move on as a free man.
Dempsey said, “So we will continue to fight, to try and get justice, and get him off the force.
We are still working with the attorney general’s office, and we are planning to take this to the Department of Justice because my brother’s civil rights were violated when he murdered him. We know we have a long road ahead with Trump in office, but at the end of the day, if we don’t start fighting now and stand for this, it can happen over and over again.”
Last Saturday at the end of the WBC heavyweight title fight with Bermane Stiverne (champion), victor Deontay Wilder gave a shoutout to Delrawn and his family as they then awaited the verdict.
“That was amazing,” Dempsey told the AmNews. “We had the privilege of meeting him when he was training for the fight. We were out for lunch one day during deliberations and we ran into him. I approached him and briefly ran down the story of what happened to my brother, and he related directly to it. He is from Alabama, but he said he’d heard about it, and ‘my heart goes out to you.’”
Dempsey said he wanted to ensure that he gave his brother’s case “a national platform because I know everyone is watching the fight.”
He continued, “For him to say his name during that fight means that really everyone would hear his name. I don’t want anyone to forget his name. That is what we are fighting for.”
As for Delrawn’s three children, his brother told the Amsterdam News, “The kids are doing good, but some days they do express the pain. We are fighting to not let them see the pain. Fourth of July will never be the same for us, but we cannot strip the children of their experiences celebrating the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
He added, “We all know that eventually we are going to have to sit down and take some therapy.”
Dempsey said that it helps working with Families4Justice.org and activists such as Joshua Lopez, whose family has suffered loss at the hands of the NYPD.
When the Amadou Diallo February 2000 verdict came down from Albany, and all four cops involved in the 41-bullet barrage—Kenneth Boss, Sean Carroll, Edward McMellon and Richard Murphy—were acquitted. That day, too, was gray and cloudy. The mood in the city was dire.
When the Sean Bell 50-shot verdict came down, the day was a bright, but none of the cops—Gescard F. Isnora, Michael Oliver and Marc Cooper—were found guilty.
The 2016 case against officer Peter Liang, who shot and killed Akai Gurley, saw the cop convicted but ultimately doing no jail time.
Tuesday, Nov. 6, when the verdict was announced, those hoping for a conviction were left stunned.
Councilman Jumaane Williams said, “I did not know that I still had the capacity to be shocked when an officer faces no meaningful consequences for killing a young man of more color. I do, and I was shocked to hear the verdict. My heart aches for the family of Delrawn Small, who did not see the justice that their son, their sibling, their relative deserved. Officer Walter Isaacs was proven to have lied about his encounter with Delrawn, the attack captured on video. I no longer know what it would take to see justice served in a case like this.”
Williams noted, “Verdicts like this are incredibly demoralizing and defeating to those of us who fight for meaningful change in policing and an end to this kind of violence, these kind of senseless deaths. They stunt the forward progress that so many are seeking. It is clear that to some, when it comes to accountability, Black lives deserve none. On duty or off duty, on video or not: it is apparent that far too often, fatal force is seen as a first resort rather than a last. For the sake of Delrawn and too many others, we must move forward with purpose, resolve and strength.”