On November 25, community groups in St. Louis organized a town hall meeting to publicize evidence showing that after police shot and killed Terry Tillman, officers planted a gun at the crime scene. Tillman, a Black man, was killed on August 31 at the Galleria Mall in Richmond Heights, a suburb of St. Louis. Police claim that they shot Tillman in self-defense after he took out a gun as he was fleeing from them.
New video evidence obtained by Real STL News showed police appearing to plant a gun at the crime scene. Video evidence, taken from a neighboring beauty salon, shows a police officer going into a patrol car with gloves, taking a firearm out, and walking over to the body of Terry Tillman, contradicting the previous statements by police. This is part of the long tradition of police in the St. Louis area fabricating evidence to justify the arrest and killing of Black men.
At the conference, many spokespeople from a variety of community organizations spoke about the shooting. Attorney Jerryl Christmas spoke saying, “Whoever controls the crime scene controls the narrative,” a narrative that has been used to attack Terry Tillman and the Tillman family in their search for justice. The reporter with Real STL news who broke the story, Amir Brandy, described this as, “The perfect example of crime scene being staged.” The Rev. Darryl Gray demanded that every stone be turned over in the investigation of this shooting, and demanded that the prosecuting attorney, Wesley Bell, meet with the Tillman family personally.
The St. Louis Coalition of Black Trade Unions offered support to the Tillman family and demanded that any officer involved in the cover-up of the killing of Terry Tillman be fired, saying, “Any officer involved in contaminating a crime scene should not be in the police.” The group, representing one of the oldest labor unions and civil rights organizations active in Missouri, stands as a bulwark for the working class in the city against racism and exploitation.
Zaki Baruti of the Universal African Peoples Organization then addressed the utter disregard police show for the well being of Black people. An example of this was the death of Anna Brown in the Richmond Heights jail. She was forcibly taken from a hospital she was staying at when doctors failed to treat her deep vein thrombosis, and in the jail her pleas for medical care were ignored by jail staff and police.
Terry Tillman was as described by his family and friends an artistic and kindhearted man. His father Darryl Tillman described him as, “An artist, and an up and coming rapper, a tattoo artist, and a brilliantly creative individual. He wanted to help all types of people, and cared deeply about the people in his life. When his friends were at their darkest point in life Terry was there for them and would be a shoulder for people to lean on. His death is a tragedy.”
Justice for Terry Tillman and all victims of racist police!