These Heartbreaking Images Highlight the Last Words of People Killed by Police

August 19th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

The fatal shooting of Michael Brown—an unarmed, Black teen who was gunned down by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer last year—has left a searing scar on the American conscience, drawing massive crowds to the streets in protest and driving a national conversation about the need for criminal justice reform in this country.

But Brown was not the only victim cut down by an officer. His name forms only part of a collective injustice that has taken the lives of hundreds. This year alone, police-involved shootings have left at least 24 unarmed, Black people dead, according to the Washington Post.

For all of the debates and investigations and departmental reforms that have come out of these cases, there remains a need to remember the names of those lost along the way, to honor the lives of those who have forced us to reevaluate our law enforcement practices and consider the devastating consequences of racial injustice.

That is exactly what Shirin-Banou Barghi, a journalist based in New York, set out to do. In a poignant series of graphics, Barghi recalls the last words of 12 people who died at the hands of police in the U.S.

"I created these images to raise awareness about racist police violence in America and as an expression of solidarity," she tweeted. "I experienced police brutality in my native Iran, and the struggle here to confront that violence resonated with me."

Michael Brown

Brown was killed by police on August 9, 2014 after an altercation with a police officer.

John Crawford

John Crawford was shot dead by police in an Ohio Wal-Mart on August 5, 2014. He was holding a BB gun and was on the phone with his mother when the officer opened fire.

Kimani Gray

Kimani Gray was only 16-years-old when he was fatally shot by New York police officers on March 9, 2013. A witness to the shooting said that Gray was fastening his seatbelt when an officer discharged his weapon. 

 Kendrec McDade

Kendrec McDade, an unarmed 19-year-old, was killed by police officers in Pasadena, California, on March 24, 2012. The college student was shot seven times, according to an autopsy report. 

Oscar Grant

Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Black man, was killed by a BART police officer in Oakland, California. The officer said that he meant to use his taser, but instead accidently used his handgun and shot Grant.

Amadou Diallo

Amadou Diallo was fatally shot by four New York police officers in plainclothes on February 4, 1999. All four officers were charged with second-degree murder and were later acquitted.

Barghi's #LastWords series can be view in full on her Twitter feed.