Adolph Grimes, Jr., and his wife, Patricia, experienced devastation when they had to flee New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina. Three years later, their world has been wrecked again, this time by the tragic death of their 22-year-old son Adolph Grimes, III, when police riddled his body with numerous shots, 12 in his back, 14 total.
"He was a mild-mannered young man who was trying to enjoy life," says his father, Adolph Grimes, Jr. "He worked every day and always looked out for anyone in need. "
His parents had moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, after the hurricane, where they still live today while Grimes and his sister moved to Houston. Although the family had been spread farther from one another, they knew that come New Year's Eve, they would all be together again.
Grimes drove from his home with his girlfriend and their 17-month-old son Christopher and pulled up to where at least 50 family and friends were celebrating with minutes to spare before midnight. His father immediately embraced him, holding the son and he hadn't seen in almost a year. The family celebration moved to the French Quarter, where Grimes's grandmother lives. It was almost 3:00 a.m. when he left there to continue to celebrate elsewhere with his cousin and friends. He was in his car, around the corner from the house, when according to the New Orleans Police Department, Grimes shot at them first.
"It sounded like fireworks, not like regular gunfire, but like 100 rounds at a time," says his mother, Patricia, who could barely continue the story of trying to see what had happened to her son. She explains that the police stopped her from leaving the house, while her husband wasn't so easily controlled.
"No one was going to stop me from seeing what happened to my child," says Grimes, Jr. The New Orleans Police Department allegedly handcuffed him and took him to the local police station, all the while never explaining what happened to his son. He came home a few hours later, where Patricia Grimes says she found out her son was dead from a newscast.
"I had to wait for the news to come on, and once they started talking about the first murder of 2009 [in New Orleans], I could tell it was in this area and knew it was my son. Until this day, no one from the police department has told me anything," she says.
The family immediately contacted an attorney and the FBI. They admit that Grimes had a registered weapon, but have no knowledge of the police account that he also had a shotgun and several rounds of ammunition in the vehicle. The FBI has taken an interest in this case and is currently moving forward with an investigation.
Grimes is just one of several young Black men who have been shot by law enforcement in the last few days. Mass protests have swept the city of Oakland after the New Year's Eve shooting death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, after he was shot by a BART transit police officer while he lay face down on the train platform. His family is now suing the BART Transit system for $25 million dollars. Then there is 23-year-old Robbie Tolan, who is recovering from gunshot wounds in his liver and lung after being shot on New Year's Eve by a Houston police officer in his own driveway. Police say they were investigating what they believed was a stolen vehicle. The police department and a spokesperson for the Houston District Attorney's office in the Tolan case have issued statements about initiating an investigation. However, the Grimes family says they've heard nothing about an investigation into their son's death.
"We put our child to rest two days ago, but we didn't get the body until seven days after his death," says Grimes, Jr. "I phoned Superintendent Chief Warren Riley the day it happened and he would not take my call. He has called my attorney, but eight days after my son's death. I don't have anything to say to him."
The New Orleans Police Department has yet to issue a statement on the case, but has reassigned the nine police officers involved.
Robert Jenkins, attorney for the Grimes family, believes the N.O.P.D. are keeping quiet because of the officers in question.
"One of the officers has a previous shooting like this in his background and is known for his racist and violent tactics," says Jenkins. "We're still waiting for the FBI to finish their investigation. When the neighbors learned the FBI was on the scene, they came out and gave some very good information. They were fearful of giving anything to the N.O.P.D."
In the end, a family is displaced yet again and continues to grieve the loss of a son, father, boyfriend, and brother. His parents, relentless in their quest for answers to what really happened to their child, mostly want the world to know about their son.
"He had love in his heart and he tried to live his life like everyone else," says his father." He was a young man with a family. He was doing what we all do when they cut his life short. We're not trying to make him a special case. We're just trying to make people see who he really was."