A Cedar Rapids woman's killing was caught on camera. Activists ask why no one is charged.

  • In US
  • 2023-02-03 12:01:30Z
  • By The Des Moines Register

Community activists and residents want justice for a Black mother of three who was fatally stabbed outside her townhome complex in northeast Cedar Rapids - an incident that was caught on camera, though no one has been arrested or charged.

Devonna Walker, 29, died after a heated altercation with her neighbors on Jan 2. Local activists say her killing was racially motivated and question why the person who stabbed her is not in jail.

A man and a woman were taken into questioning and released the same day of the incident, officials have said. Activists say that includes a white man who is seen on cell phone video calling Walker a racial slur and minutes later, stabbing Walker after she lunged at him and the woman she was arguing with.

"They took him in for questioning like he was an eyewitness," said Walker's family friend Jimaine Cooper, whose organization Parents Against Violence Everywhere has led weekly protests in front of the police department since Walker died. "Why wasn't he arrested?"

In a joint statement, Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman and Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said they're still waiting for some "potential information" like final autopsy results. The two also said these types of investigations and the "important decisions" to file criminal charges "can take days, weeks and even months to complete."

"We understand the family and friends of Devonna Walker - and our greater community - want answers as to what happened that led to Devonna Walker losing her life," the statement reads. "We want answers as well and that is why the Cedar Rapids Police Department and the Linn County Attorney's Office are continuing to work together on this investigation."

Police have completed their investigation and turned the case over to the attorney's office, Cedar Rapids Public Safety Communications Specialist Mike Battien wrote in an email to the Des Moines Register.

Devonna Walker, 29, of Cedar Rapids, was fatally stabbed outside her townhome complex Jan.
Devonna Walker, 29, of Cedar Rapids, was fatally stabbed outside her townhome complex Jan.  

What happened to Devonna Walker?

According to the Cedar Rapids Police Department, police were called to the 2100 block of North Towne Court Northeast at about 6:44 p.m. Jan. 2 and found Walker "suffering from a stab wound." Police said Walker was treated at the scene but later died at the hospital.

A nearly 15-minute video posted on Facebook a few days later reveals the events that unfolded that night. The cell phone video appears to have been filmed from across the street and shows Walker arguing with a woman about a previous alleged attack.

A man in the doorway appears, steps outside and grabs a dog the woman was holding. The argument escalates between the woman and Walker, and the man reappears in the doorway again to shout at the woman to "get inside." He then calls Walker a racial slur.

At the three-minute mark, Walker charges toward the woman, who was making her way to the doorstep, and pushes her to the ground, almost falling on top of her. The man returns, and Walker lunges at him and punches him. He then appears to stab her.

More: Biden promised to address hate crime reporting. 20 months later, here's what's been done.

Walker, in the video, is later seen breaking away from the man and woman. An unsteady Walker walks away and collapses face down on the ground. The woman hovers over Walker and calls her a name.

Police finally arrive at the 11-minute mark. Emergency responders attempt to perform life-saving measures before placing her on a stretcher.

With the investigation pending, Maybanks said he cannot comment on the number of stab wounds Walker suffered but noted that "pertinent facts of the investigation will be shared with the community" when the investigation is completed.

Maybanks said his office plans to "announce soon an approximate timeline for a decision" on the investigation. He said he's unable to "comment specifically on the reasons" for decisions made during the early stages of the investigation, including why no initial arrests were made or charges filed.

"But it is not atypical or out of the ordinary for suspects to be initially interviewed and for law enforcement officials and prosecutors to decide that there is necessary follow-up to be done prior to determining whether charges are appropriate," Maybanks said.

In the joint statement, Jerman and Maybanks said they want people who are "feeling this pain" and "anger" to find support in resources available in the community but "not to take matters into their own hands."

When is the next protest for Devonna Walker?

PAVE joins a growing list of local social justice groups bringing awareness to Walker's case, including Advocates for Social Justice, Stand in Unity, Marion Alliance for Racial Equity, the Cedar Rapids chapter of the NAACP and We Are CR.

They recently held a town hall meeting to gather more details on the police investigation. Though invited, the mayor, police chief and the county attorney did not attend, said Mimi Daoud, director of operations for Advocates for Social Justice.

Another community protest is planned from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday. Protestors will march from the Lindale Mall parking lot at 4600 First Ave. to the busy intersection of Collins Road and First Avenue.

Daoud said she, Cooper and many others are working to create more momentum around Walker's case and encourage people to participate in protests or contact the county attorney's office or mayor's office.

"We need to be heard because what if this happens again?" Cooper said.

Walker's family launched a GoFundMe page to help support Walker's three children, a 14-year-old; a 7-year-old and a 3-month-old. On the fundraising website, Walker is described as a beloved mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend.

More:How does GoFundMe work and make its money?

Cooper said Walker was "down to earth" and a recent churchgoer, someone who "changed her life around for the better."

As Saturday's protest quickly approaches, Cooper said he has one message to send: "Silence is violence."

F. Amanda Tugade covers social justice issues for the Des Moines Register. Email her at ftugade@dmreg.com or follow her on Twitter @writefelissa.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Video shows Devonna Walker's death in Cedar Rapids; no charges filed


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