DJ-Broadus
Family Of DJ Broadus

Family Of Florida Man Killed In Execution-Style Shooting Demands "Honest" Police Investigation

Dominic "DJ" Broadus was shot in the back of the head three times. 

The family of an unarmed Florida man who died in an execution-style shooting earlier in the month, are demanding that authorities arrest the person who pulled the trigger.

On the afternoon of Feb. 3, Dominic Jerome “D.J.” Broadus II, a 31-year-old Jacksonville native described as a “storyteller” who was “loved”, “loyal”, and a “great dad,” was found dead in the back of a home located at Southern States Nursery Road outside of Macclenny, Fla.

Although Broadus’ family isn’t “100 percent” sure of what happened to him, the fact remains that he was unarmed and shot “three times” in the head, “at close range.”

“Initially they told us nothing,” Chioma Iwuoha, Broadus’ cousin, shared with VIBE of how authorities in Baker County handled the investigation. “That’s why we made a call to the community, because police weren’t answering our questions.”

Broadus’ father, Dominic Jerome Broadus Sr., identified his son via a photo shown to him by authorities. The family didn’t physically see his body until three days after he was killed, Iwuoha said. She also pointed out that Broadus’ car was towed after he was killed, and that his father had to pay $330 to get it back.

At approximately 3:45 p.m., officers responded to a call of a shooting at the home where they found Broadus' body in the back of the residence, according to reports from police and the medical examiner.

Also at the home was Gardner Kent Fraser, the son of a former Florida sheriff’s deputy. Fraser was  “escorted” to the sheriff’s office where he was questioned and released.

While Broadus was considered an “outsider” in Baker County, Fraser is a longtime “well-connected” resident, a message on the “Justice 4 DJ Broadus” Facebook page reads.

“The fact that our son was an outsider in Baker County and the suspect is a longtime, well-connected, Baker County resident, gives us great concerns about the fairness of the process,” the message, which was posted on Feb. 13, explains. “As parents, our hopes are that a thorough, honest, and unbiased investigation will be conducted.”

At least one other person was at the home where Broadus died, but according to The Root, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office redacted the person's name from the police report, as well as further details about the crime scene. Broadus' cell phone was also never recovered.

Last week, Broadus' family held a town hall meeting regarding the case.

Founded in 1861, and named after a Confederate senator, Baker County is a community with a legacy of  racial disparity. A mural featuring KKK members still hangs inside the Baker County Courthouse, despite a 2015 petition to have it removed. Last May, Baker County made national headlines after a photo of black students at Baker County High School with nooses drawn around their necks, began circulating on social media.

And when it comes to gun violence and unarmed black victims, the Fraser family has it’s own history. In 2009, Fraser’s father, deputy Ryan T. Fraser, was fired for shooting an unarmed black man while responding to a robbery call. Although Ryan claimed he thought the alleged suspect had a gun, former Jacksonville sheriff John Rutherford, concluded that the officer’s actions were “unacceptable.”

Ryan became the third Jacksonville officer involved in a shooting that Rutherford fired when he took office in 2003. Meanwhile,  Ryan found another job working in law enforcement in Macclenny, and retired in 2017.

Amid talk of a conflict of interest, and to maintain transparency, the Baker County Sheriff’s department turned over the Broadus case to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. But authorities have yet to make an arrest, and the family says that they’re not being updated on the status of the investigation.

In the meantime, Broadus’ loved ones have launched a You Caring account aimed at raising $100,000 to pay for an independent autopsy and legal expenses.

Iwuoha believes that Broadus will become a “catalyst” for change in the legal system within Baker County.

“A lot of people in the community are tired of the nepotism.”

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Kansas City To Remove Martin Luther King’s Name From Street Signs

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name is set to be removed from street signs around Kansas City after resident voted Tuesday (Nov. 5), to drop MLK Boulevard and restore the parkway back to its original name, The Paseo.

The measure, which passed with approximately 70 percent of the vote, was spearheaded by Save the Paseo, a grassroots movement whose mission is to “preserve the name of KC’s most historic boulevard and find a way to honor Dr. King that brings the City together.”  Stretching 10 miles north and south, The Paseo is the longest, and one of the oldest streets in KC.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas introduced the resolution to have the street renamed, after nearly 40 years of failed attempts at honoring the late Civil Rights hero. The MLK street signs were erected this past February. “People want to make sure that we engage with enough different community stakeholders, and I think it's fair to say that did not happen," Lucas told The Kansas City Star in reaction to the vote.

Rep. Vernon P. Howard, who helped lead the MLK name change effort, believes that the issue is race-related. Howard said Save the Paseo group members are of mostly white residents who don’t fully grasp the significance of the name change. Paseo members held a silent protest at the Paseo Baptist Church last Sunday (Nov. 3).

“This is a white-led movement that is trying to dictate to black people in the black community who our heroes should be, who we honor, where we honor them and how we honor them,” Howard said. “That is the pathology of white privilege and that is the epitome of systemic structural racism.”

The street sign discrepancy began after the city changed the address of more than 1,800 residents without asking. Kansas City law requires that at least two-thirds of residents approve a street name before it can be changed, although the rule is not typically enforced, according to The Star. Diane Euston, a member of Save Paseo, said that she was “proud of Kansas City” after Tuesday's vote.

Kansas City is expected to remove more than 100 signs, including those that cut through a predominately black neighborhood in town. Although Kansas City has a park named after King, the city will go back to being one of the largest major metropolitan areas without a street named in King's honor.

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Free Rodney Reed: 5 Things To Know About The Death Row Inmate's Case

For 21 years, Rodney Reed has been on death row while fighting to prove his innocence. The now 51-year-old was convicted of murdering Stacey Stites on April 22, 1996. Reed, a black man, and Stites, a white woman, were in a consensual relationship although the latter was engaged at the time to former police officer Jimmy Fennell.

When Stites was killed, authorities discovered DNA that matched Reed's, leading the jury to find him guilty. Reed's legal counsel claims the DNA (semen) was a result of his and Stites' relationship. Also, the murder weapon, a belt, was never tested for DNA and his fingerprints were nowhere to be found.

Now, 16 days before Reed's execution by lethal injection, his legal team, activists, and celebrities are calling for a halt as counsel seeks to re-examine the evidence and present new witness testimonies to the court that might help to prove Reed's innocence.

Here are five things to know about Reed's case.

1. Rodney Reed Was Found Guilty By An All-White Jury

In 1998, Reed was found guilty by an all-white jury due to the discovery of his semen on Stites' body. His legal team stresses it was the result of a consensual relationship between the pair.

"None of them look like me but I...grew up in the military. I was a military brat...I figured that they would hear the evidence and know that I'm innocent," Reed said to ABC News. "Race played a big part. I didn't see it at first...I wasn't seeing racism like that." Stites' cousin and a co-worker supported Reed's testimony that the pair were in a consensual relationship.

According to The Statesman, the case was fast-paced and left Reed's defense counsel little to no time to present its side. Stites' fiance, Jimmy Fennell, was also a suspect. The news site reports he reportedly failed two polygraph tests on his location at the time of Stites' death but the jury zoned in on Reed after his DNA was found on Stites' body.

2. The Suspected Murder Weapon Hasn't Been Tested For DNA Evidence

The murder weapon, a belt, was never tested for DNA evidence and requests for its examination have been refused by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The Innocence Project also notes the three forensic officials that testified revealed their testimonies had errors.

“So we're asking for DNA testing because it is a clear path where you can find additional evidence in this case," Bryce Benjet, senior attorney for the Innocence Project, said. "And the obvious thing that you would want to test is the belt, because that was the item used to strangle the victim. [It] was held in the hands of the murderer and that's very likely to have the DNA from the murderer."

The belt was reportedly used to strangle Stites before her body was found near a Bastrop County road in Texas.

3. Jimmy Fennell Served A 10-Year Prison Sentence For Kidnapping And Sexual Abuse

While on duty, former police officer Fennell reportedly kidnapped and sexually abused a woman, receiving a 10-year sentence. According to The Innocence Project's website, the organization states Fennell had a history of inflicting violence toward women.

While in prison, Fennell met an inmate named Arthur Snow Jr., who was a part of the Aryan Brotherhood gang. Fennell sought protection from Latino and Black inmates, so he attempted to befriend Snow according to a sworn three-page affidavit. Within the passage, Snow claims Fennell confessed to the murder and bragged about Reed's predicament.

"He was talking about his fiancée with a lot of hatred and anger," Snow stated. Race also came into the conversation when Snow claims Fennell believed Stites was "sleeping around with a black man." Snow is Reed's legal team's fourth witness in an attempt to halt his execution.

Fennell's lawyer, Robert Phillips, said his client denies any involvement in Stites' murder. According to The Statesman, other witnesses have claimed Fennell's questionable rhetoric, including a former Lee County sheriff's deputy who said during Stites' funeral, Fennell said "something along the lines of, 'You got what you deserved.'"

4. Texas Authorities Sought To Execute Reed In 2015

According to The Guardian, Reed was slated to be executed on March 5, 2015, but an appeal filed by his legal team granted a stay of execution as the counsel continued to gather its findings and examinations.

Griffin Hardy, a spokesperson for Sister Helen Prejean (an advocate for the death penalty's abolishment), said to The Guardian that, “Racial discrimination infects the death penalty system as a whole and we see it in this case. It’s disturbing to see these kind of biases and prejudices that can ultimately cost someone their life.”

A lawsuit was also filed in 2019 on Reed's behalf that calls into question Fennell's recollection used in the case. “Prominent forensic pathologists have reached the un-rebutted conclusion that Fennell’s testimony that Ms. Stites was abducted and murdered while on her way to work around 3.30 a.m. is medically and scientifically impossible."

5. A Petition Calls For At Least 120 Days To Analyze New Evidence

Although the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Reed's stay of execution request, the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to place attention to his plea. To recall an earlier claim, Fennell's differing recollections of his whereabouts at the time of Stites' death have also come into question.

According to Bastrop Sheriff's Officer Curtis Davis, Fennell first said he was out drinking. Then he claimed he was at the apartment he and Stites shared. Investigators noted that his last claim was actually the same time Stites was murdered.

The petition aims to place a stay on Reed's execution and garner the attention of Texas' Gov. Greg Abbott. A social media campaign, #FreeRodneyReed, began to pick up steam over the weekend, receiving support from Meek Mill, Rihanna, Questlove, T.I., and more. Reed's hope is to be granted a new trial.

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Cyntoia Brown Barred From Being Around Stepson Due To Criminal Conviction

Cyntoia Brown must stay away from her 11-year-old stepson after a judge recently granted a restraining order filed by the boy’s mother. Stacy Kirkland shares a son with Jamie Long, the former Pretty Ricky member and Christian rapper whom Brown married while she was in prison.

According to documents obtained by Bossip, Kirkland is “extremely” concerned about the safety of her son with Long, and does not believe he “will take proper measures to protect” the child from “danger.” Kirkland lives in Texas with their son, while Long moved to Tennessee where he lives with Brown.

The judge approved Kirkland’s request after Long failed to respond. Long is not allowed to take the boy outside of the state or discuss the case in front of him.

In the documents, Kirkland reportedly stated that while she would love for Long to spend more time with their son but “in light Jaime’s recent decision to enter into a romantic, committed relationship with a woman convicted of first-degree murder, I am extremely fearful.” She adds that Long did not inform her that he was getting married as part of their custody agreement.

Brown, a former teenage child sex trafficking victim who served 15 years in prison for murder, was released in August. In addition to getting married, Brown earned two college degrees while behind bars. During an interview with The Breakfast Club earlier in the month, the 31-year-old Tennessee native discussed how she met Long.

“He wrote me while I was prison,” she recalled. “I wasn’t writing people back but there was something about his letter — he burned the edges of it. I was like 'this is really neat,' so I wrote him back and I remember just feeling amazed by this man. His goodness really came through.”

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