Following a string of police shootings of unarmed men of color, lies the stories of families coping with their loss in New York, which is also the home of the Intense Compstat police process. Their stories echo generations of Injustice while their pursuit for Accountability conflicts from the values of NYPD Leadership.
Gwen Carr, Hawa Bah, Kadiatou Diallo, William Bell and Nicholas Heyward Sr. share one heart-wrenching common thread—the UNJUST DEATH OF A child AT THE HANDS OF THE NYPD.
This documentary follows several families as they struggle for justice after a racially biased judicial system tore their lives apart. For Gwen Carr, Hawa Bah, and Kadiatou, a seemingly routine interaction between their loved ones and the NYPD ended in the ultimate tragedy: the loss of their lives. Facing an unapologetic NYPD and a justice system that is deaf to their cries, these grieving parents have few options and little hope. But nothing can keep them from rising up in defiance and seeking justice for their lost children. As we follow their stories, we learn the true story of their children, including who they really were and why they meant so much to their loved ones. At the same time, we’ll unpack the law enforcement policies that led to the fatal encounter between their children and the NYPD.
Act 1 captures the uphill battle that these families face as they seek to expose the justice system’s endemic injustices. As we see their journey, we discover the true story behind the headlines, including their children’s humanity. While the media may portray them as nothing more than common criminals, to their family, friends, and communities they were beloved members who made a difference in the lives of those they encountered. Throughout this act, we hear the voices of heartbroken parents remembering their children, fighting for justice, and supporting one another
In act 2, Gwen Carr begins unraveling the policies that led to NYPD officers targeting Eric Garner. The police department’s emphasis on hard numbers and statistics put a bullseye on his back. Garner’s case exposes the ways that CompStat, a popular policing philosophy, has led to unnecessary – and sometimes deadly – actions becoming commonplace in communities of color. Former NYPD officers offer valuable insight into the system, noting how officers who do not perform lose vacation days and suffer from write-ups, relocations, and blackballing. As act 2 progresses, we witness Gwen Carr and Hawa Bah fight an uphill battle in court against the NYPD. At the same time, they work with activists and attentive politicians to push legislation that could make a difference in future cases. Their stories remind us of the United States’ dark history, one filled with oppression and marginalization enforced through laws and policies. Today, that oppression is made more visible than ever thanks to mobile phones and their ability to capture case after case of police violence. Public outrage ensues as grand juries across the city fail to indict any of the officers involved in the killings of unarmed black men. Throughout, experts on the topic weigh in, questioning whether police are really committed to protecting people of color. All of this leads to a simple question: Can communities of color trust in the idea that America is great while so little is done to ensure justice is done for their sons and daughters?
In act 3, George Floyd is killed in an agonizingly slow way by an overzealous police officer. As the families in this film watch another unarmed Black man lose his life, their wounds are ripped back open. Hawa Bah, along with a host of other families, take to the streets, marching miles upon miles. The families’ trials conclude in various ways, but they all share one commonality. They are the first step in a larger struggle to gain justice for their children and protect their legacy. Although nothing can bring their children back or take away their deep pain, they press on in hope that their work will bring peace and healing to their communities and to the United States. Former officers and educators agree that change will come as police systems change and as communities become more involved in steering the wheel of their future.