A group of about 40 people marched in West Point on Sunday for a “Unity In The Community Against Police Brutality” protest.
The protest stemmed from a Sept. 22 incident in which police say Marquezmon McCray, 26, drove through a safety checkpoint after informing officers he did not have a driver’s license in his possession. Officers observed a substance suspected of being marijuana inside the vehicle, according to West Point police.
McCray then allegedly attempted to flee the checkpoint and struck an officer with his vehicle, causing officers to fire at him, police said. He was struck by one bullet during the incident and was taken to the Atlanta Medical Center for treatment. The officer, who was allegedly run over by McCray, received non-life threatening injuries, according to police.
McCray’s mother, Regina McCray, was at the protest and said the incident was handled inappropriately.
“People drive off from road blocks all the time, but I’ve never heard of it being an incident so severe where you’re shooting to kill,” she said. “More than eight bullets hit the car and we’re blessed that only one hit him.”
Faheem Shabazz, the protest’s organizer, said that the protest is to bring awareness to the community of misconduct of officers. He said the West Point police have been inconsistent in what happened that morning of the shooting.
“They’ve been concocting evidence and things to create situations to be conducive to the crime they charge most of us with,” Shabazz told the crowd. “That’s what we’re fighting against.”
Shabazz, who is also the step-father of Marquezmon, played a recording for the LaGrange Daily News of what he said was a West police officer explaining to his family at the hospital that night what happened during the incident. The male on the audio explained that Marquezmon fired shots at the officer, which prompted officers to fire back.
“That never happened,” he said. “Officers searched all parameters and they did not find a gun anywhere.”
The police department later told the family that Marquezmon ran over an officer, which lead officers to fire at his vehicle, said Shabazz, though he said an investigator told him no officers sustained any injuries during the incident.
West Point police Chief Jeff Cato declined to comment on any allegations until the GBI investigation is complete.
Shabazz says the family does not condone Marquezmon’s actions of driving through the checkpoint and that he should pay the consequences, but believes the way it was handled by police is questionable.
The officers involved in the incident were placed on administrative leave as per departmental policy and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident.
“We’re just trying to get justice,” said Regina McCray. “The conduct of those officers wasn’t proper and for them to be reprimanded without pay, I don’t think that is sufficient.”
Those involved in the protest called for the firing of West Point police officers Sgt. Kevin Bauer, John Corbett and Kendall Ham because of their alleged “filing of false police reports, obstruction of criminal investigations and excessive use of force in the shooting of Marquezmon McCray, during an illegal safety checkpoint,” according to a press release from Shabazz. They also called for the firing of Cato and Capt. Robert Fawley for “authorizing the false reports, assisting in the manipulation of evidence to obstruct criminal investigations and for covering up public corruption.”
Cato along with others from the West Point Police Department, Georgia State Patrol, LaGrange Police Department and Troup County Sheriff’s Office were patrolling during the protest which started at 1101 E. 10th St. and went to 3rd Avenue in West Point.
“They’re free to protest,” Cato said. “I won’t take any action until the GBI investigation is complete.”