Kate St-Pierre and Jackie Lawrence
Mixed media installation Dimensions variable
Cover photo by Jeff Scheid
Narrative, video and photos by Nissa Tzun
This collaborative installation represents the New Year’s Eve celebration that Keith was never able to attend.
Las Vegas, NV - On December 31, 2015, Keith Childress, Jr., 23, father of three, was visiting Las Vegas for the New Year’s holiday. He was walking in a private neighborhood when he was shot five times in broad daylight by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police. Police were acting on a sham call from U.S. Marshals that Childress was an armed and dangerous fugitive wanted for attempted murder. Off of this false information, the police pursued Childress and apprehended him. While Childress did have an open court case, he was neither armed and dangerous, nor wanted for attempted murder.
Within seconds of making contact, Childress was shot several times. The police claim they thought he was armed, but Childress only had his cell phone in his hand. After police shot him, the K-9 unit released dogs onto Childress, tearing up his backside. The surrounding area where the police shot Childress was badly damaged. The garage door of the driveway where Childress fell needed to be replaced and several parked cars endured collateral damage. To this day, bullet holes can be seen on the side of the house. While no criminal charges were filed, the mother of Childress, Jacqueline Lawrence, has filed a civil lawsuit against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police for his wrongful death.
Pan shot of the installation, "Stolen."
The following is a photo essay of the aftermath of Keith's murder, witnessing his family's calls for justice since his passing.
Family, friends and supporters of police violence victim Keith Childress, Jr. gather outside Excalibur Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip to demand justice for his murder. His mother, Jackie Lawrence, center, lives in Phoenix, Arizona, which makes advocating for her son difficult. Las Vegas, NV, June 5, 2016.
Family, friends and supporters of police violence victim Keith Childress, Jr. protest his killing on the Las Vegas Strip. Rainye Hile, his cousin, holds up a sign that reads, “Unarmed and black,” a fitting message since Childress was killed in broad daylight in a private neighborhood and was “armed” only with a cell phone. Las Vegas, NV, June 5, 2016.
Families impacted by police violence from all across the nation convene at Wayne State University for the 1st Annual Families United 4 Justice National Network Gathering. Jackie Lawrence and her partner, Kenneth Bryant, are on the far left representing Keith Childress, Jr. This was the first time they met other families impacted by police violence where they were able to bond and share their experiences. Detroit, MI., June 15, 2017.
Jackie Lawrence helps Keilani Childress, the youngest daughter of Keith Childress, Jr. who was born six months after he was killed, arrange the flowers and decorations for the second year anniversary of Keith Childress, Jr.’s death in the private driveway where he was shot to death. Las Vegas, NV, December 31, 2017.
At a rally to reclaim the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., held at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. statue at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Carey Avenue in North Las Vegas, Makaila Steagall, niece of Keith Childress, Jr., performs a poem she wrote about her uncle and his police homicide. “We will not stop until we get justice,” she concludes. Other family members stand by her side. From left to right: Trinita Farmer, mother of police homicide victim, Tashii Brown, killed on May 14, 2017, Petra Wilson, widow of police homicide victim, Rex Wilson, killed on October 12, 2016, and to the right of Makaila, Jackie Lawrence, mother of police homicide victim Keith Childress, Jr., killed on December 31, 2015. North Las Vegas, NV, January 20, 2018.
From left to right - Jackie Lawrence, the mother of Keith Childress, Jr., Amber Adams, Keith’s daughter’s mother, and Makaila Steagall, Keith’s niece, lead the Families Are The Frontline march. Nearly 40 family members (21 cases) impacted by police violence, local to Las Vegas and also families from New York, Seattle, California, Atlanta, and St. Louis, MO, held a press conference, march and vigil in the Las Vegas Arts District on June 6, 2020. The FTP-sponsored event was a rapid response to the police killing of George Floyd that ignited the nation in protest in the Spring of 2020. Impacted families shared their response and also their own narratives of police violence, highlighting the impact that it has had on them and their loved ones during the press conference. Afterwards, families led the march to Boulder Plaza and held a vigil for their loved ones.