Black Lives Matter New Haven and People Against Police Brutality held a memorial vigil on April 14, 2017 for Malik E. Jones who was brutally gunned down by the East Haven Police Department on April 14th, 1997. We gathered in New Haven on Grand Ave., at the spot where Malik was killed, to celebrate his life.
Twenty years ago, Malik Jones was driving through East Haven on his way back home from his brother’s birthday party. He was on his way to his mother’s house in New Haven when an East Haven police officer started following him. Officer Robert Flodquist followed Malik out of East Haven and eventually pulled him over on Grand Avenue in Fair Haven, right around the corner from Malik’s mother’s house. The police stopped Malik’s car and boxed him in before officer Flodquist got out and approached the driver side window. Flodquist eventually shattered Malik’s car window with his gun and shot and killed Malik as he sat, unarmed in his stopped vehicle, so close to his mother’s house that she could’ve heard the gunshots. She would eventually see news reel footage of the police and first responders dragging her son’s bullet ridden body from his car as they tried to handcuff him before allowing him to receive medical attention.
Flodquist would later say that he shot Malik because he feared for his life after Malik gave him a “go to hell look,” and Malik’s car began to roll backwards. A federal jury, however, found that Officer Flodquist was not justified when he shot Malik to death. Unfortunately, the Jury made a technical error when it awarded Malik’s estate damages leading to a new trial exclusively on the issue of damages. At this trial, the attorney for the city of East Haven, Hugh Keefe, hoped to argue that Malik’s life wasn’t really worth the $2,500,000 the jury determined in the award because he probably would’ve only lived for another ten years. In other words, Malik’s Daughter, Priya, doesn’t deserve as much compensation for the time she would’ve been able to spend with her father because he probably would’ve died young anyway.
Since April 14th, 1997, Malik’s mother Emma Jones, along with the unwavering support of the New Haven community, has sought to hold the East Haven Police Department accountable for her son’s death. She’s pursued every imaginable legal remedy in every possible venue, she’s organized with the M.A.L.I.K. organization for numerous policing reforms, and has lead a twenty year movement for police accountability in the state of CT. Twenty years later, Malik is still dead. The town of East Haven has yet to so much as apologize to his family for his death, which was the direct result of the East Haven Police Department’s notoriously racist policing practices. This was a time when the East Haven Police department softball team proudly wore homemade jerseys that depicted a black person bent over the hood of a police car with the ingeniously racist play on words “Boys on the Hood” printed over the disturbing image.
Instead of an admission that the racism endemic to the East Haven Police force, as well as police forces throughout the state, robbed Malik’s family of their brother, son, father, grandson, nephew, etc… the East Haven Police Department promoted Robert Flodquist to department spokesperson shortly after he murdered Malik. He is currently collecting a healthy pension. The longtime mayor of East Haven, Jospeh Maturo, took SCOTUS’s decision not to hear Malilk’s case an opportunity to rub salt into Malik’s family’s and the New Haven Community’s wounds by saying, “Malik Jones is done.” This is the same Mayor who, when asked what he was going to do for the Latinx community following the arrest of several East Haven police officers for racial profiling and racist brutality against Latinx residents, said, “I might have tacos when I get home.” Even in this atmosphere of blatant, old school, KKK lynching style racism, there is still no accountability when a white police officer shoots and kills an unarmed black person because they allegedly gave him a “go to hell look.”
Malik would be nearly forty years old if he were still alive today. His daughter recently graduated from college and his mother continues to struggle for police accountability in the state of CT. We keep Malik alive by remembering the way he died on April 14th, 1997, and by remembering the way he lived for twenty one years prior. Malik was born on September 4th, 1975 and was murdered on April 14th, 1997. Twenty years later, we remember Malik as a father, son, grandson, brother and friend, so that his life isn’t overshadowed by the unapologetically racist, brutal, and yet-unremedied manner by which it was stolen.