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Posted at 10:11 PM ET, 11/13/2010

The police killed my son. Why can't they answer my questions?

By Brook Hailu Beshah

On the morning of Dec. 10, 2008, I said goodbye to my 19-year-old son, Hailu Brook, and left for work. It was the last time I would see him alive. The pain of what transpired that day will remain with me and my family until we die. But it has been made so much worse by the Fairfax County authorities’ refusal to provide answers to our questions.

Arlington County and Fairfax police say that Hailu robbed a BB&T bank branch on Old Dominion Drive in McLean after he left home that morning. They say he then drove across the county line into Arlington, crashed his car and fled on foot. Ultimately, three Fairfax officers who pursued him fired some 20 times according to a witness quoted by NBC Washington. At 10:30 p.m., many hours after the shooting, the police finally came to our home to break the news to us that Hailu was dead. It was originally reported that Hailu exchanged gunfire with the police, but later we were told he was shot because he pointed a toy gun at them.

And we are expected to take their word for all of this and go away. But we cannot do that. There is still so much that does not make sense to us. We owe it to our son to seek the truth.

The area where all of this occurred is familiar to us — as it was to Hailu. He drove past this bank on his way to Yorktown High School every day, and we believe that is exactly what he was doing on that day, as well. He was a very sociable and pleasant young man; his backpack was full of textbooks and notebooks. It was simply not in Hailu's personality to carry out such a crime.

If Hailu had not been killed by the police, he would have had the right to a trial, during which the police would have presented their evidence against him. This is the right and proper thing. But his death has prevented this. Because he was killed by the police, all we have been given is a short letter stating that the shooting was justified. Why should the question of his guilt be of any less importance now?

Here are some of the questions we have:

  • The internal investigation: Why won’t the police share their report? No doubt it was comprehensive. A simple statement saying “the action is justified” without detailed evidence is an insult to our intelligence.
  • Video recordings: It is routine police procedure to have video equipment in their cars. It was reported that the police were in hot pursuit of my son. Therefore, they may have video footage. Do they? If not, why not?
  • Closed-circuit bank videotape: Is there a tape from BB&T? Allow us to view it, and many of our questions can be answered. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
  • The level of force: Why were so many shots fired? And why was he struck, as his autopsy indicated, in the back?

We have anxiously pursued this matter for almost two years now. Arlington detectives have had the decency to sit down with us, but it is Fairfax that has most of the information we seek. Despite our respectful requests, the Fairfax authorities have not met with us, for reasons we don’t understand. As the months have passed, our doubts and suspicions have only increased. What is it that they don’t want us to know?

Last week, Hailu would have turned 21. As parents, we need to know how his life ended, and we want closure. If events transpired as the police say they did, we will move on with our lives.

We are an ordinary, law-abiding family. We pay our taxes. It is not our intention to pick a fight with a strong and rich county such as Fairfax. But such silence does not go hand in hand with the responsibility and accountability of public officials. We have a right to know what happened.

The writer is a former deputy Ethio­pian ambassador to the United States. He lives in Fairlawn, Ohio.

By Brook Hailu Beshah  | November 13, 2010; 10:11 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax County, HotTopic, Virginia, crime, police  
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Comments

Study Criminal Justice to solve crimes like these. Stop just reading the news and take action and be part of the solution http://bit.ly/ctecjq

Posted by: greyburke13 | November 14, 2010 3:09 AM | Report abuse

Your son robbed a bank, drove a car on a wild chase endangering countless citizens including their children, then pulls out a toy gun (that obviously looked real at the bank and to the police) and now you're upset your son was shot by the police? Seriously?! Your son made those decisions to put himself in that position. I'm also pretty sure you're son was no angel as you imagine he was. Get a lawyer if you want the truth, but you probably will never be happy with the truth and will eventually join the Tom Jackman Anti-Fairfax County Police coalition. Police departments are always the easy targets to accuse when they are forced to take a life, but no one ever points the finger at the person who made the wrong choice and forced that action upon him.

Posted by: Dustoff1968 | November 14, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

@dustoff - Apparently you have reading comprehension difficulties. Or perhaps you should try actually reading the essay before you post a response? Just a suggestion.

@Mr.Beshah - It is a sad truth that this country, like many others, demands little to no accountability from its police. In the Washington DC metro area, Prince George's county, Fairfax county and DC police are all noted for their violence, corruption and lack of concern for civilian life.

The reason for this is that their local governments provide no actual oversight. Police officers of these jurisdiction know that they can act with impunity, even commit outright murder, and they will suffer no consequences. So naturally any civilian requests for justification of their actions will be ignored, as yours have been.

Your son may have committed all the crimes he was alleged to have committed. The police may have acted correctly in his case. But that is not for us citizens to know. Our role is to obey and to fear. We are not given many other alternatives.

Posted by: bigbrother1 | November 14, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Dustoff1968 You stupid a__. I know you are stupid because you believe that just because the police said it it must be true. Some of the most devilish people are cops. Even the so-called good ones don't stand up against the evil ones. Stupid.

Posted by: dome1 | November 14, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

If the same thing had happened to a child of mine, I probably would have the same questions. The police should be responsive and accountable.

Fairfax County police, tear down the wall of concealment and let all your records (text, video and audio) in this case be examined by the parents and the public.

Posted by: jimb | November 14, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I think the Fairfax County Government should sue you for raising a thug.

Posted by: priveye | November 14, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Just by the mere fact that the evil cops are not being respectful to these parents makes it obvious that the police have done something wrong here. Couple that with the fact that if you know anything about Ethiopian people, it is VERY HIGHLY UNLIKELY that this boy did what they say he did. To all of the people here saying negative things about this boy, one thing is a guaranteed fact: you are caucasian. And it's obvious what kind of caucasian you are.

Posted by: dome1 | November 14, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Another Fairfax County government success story.

Libtard idiots infest the population, government and PD in that county. Shoot an unarmed optometrist in the face "by accident"? No problem. Don't want to have the decency to talk to this parent (unlike the Arlington PD), no problem. The county should just secede from the rest of the Commonwealth and join their brethren in MD, DC, or even NJ. It would be a win-win situation.

Posted by: k_romulus | November 15, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Brook Hailu Beshah,

I extend my heartfelt sorrow for the tragic loss of your son. It is my sincere hope that officials of Fairfax County will hear your plea and take the right measures so that justice can be served. I am truly sorry that a young man had to lose his life for an alleged crime that does not deserve such a brutal punishment. I am truly sorry for your loss. Our prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. Be strong. Justice in America may be a little bit delayed, but it will never be denied. May God be with you and your family. May your son's soul rest in peace.

Posted by: GirumSoccer | November 15, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Brook Hailu Beshah,

I extend my heartfelt sorrow for the tragic loss of your son. It is my sincere hope that officials of Fairfax County will hear your plea and take the right measures so that justice can be served. I am truly sorry that a young man had to lose his life for an alleged crime that does not deserve such a brutal punishment. I am truly sorry for your loss. Our prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. Be strong. Justice in America may be a little bit delayed, but it will never be denied. May God be with you and your family. May your son's soul rest in peace.

Posted by: GirumSoccer | November 15, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Just by the mere fact that the evil cops are not being respectful to these parents makes it obvious that the police have done something wrong here. Couple that with the fact that if you know anything about Ethiopian people, it is VERY HIGHLY UNLIKELY that this boy did what they say he did. To all of the people here saying negative things about this boy, one thing is a guaranteed fact: you are caucasian. And it's obvious what kind of caucasian you are.
Posted by: dome1
*****************************
One thing is a guaranteed fact...you are an idiot. And its obvious what kind of idiot you are.

You have the nerve to insinuate that the commenters who believe the boy to be guilty are racist. Obvious that the "evil cops" have done something wrong? "...if you know anything about Ethiopian people..." - really? What, they do no wrong? guaranteed fact: they are caucasian - seriously?

You insinuated that those people are racist yet you proved to all that YOU are.

btw, I happen to believe that the PD should provide information to the parents.

Posted by: overed | November 15, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

OK let me explain for you since you are stupid enough to speak up for people who seem to get satisfaction in someone black being killed by the police. I said "Couple that with the fact that if you know anything about Ethiopian people, it is VERY HIGHLY UNLIKELY that this boy did what they say he did." To an idiot this means that what is being said is that an Ethiopian can do no wrong. A sensible unhateful person would see the "VERY HIGHLY UNLIKELY" part and have little trouble making sense out of it. WHEN COUPLED WITH THE POLICE LACK OF COOPERATION AFTER THE FACT. When you look at the atrocious comments that I spoke against, only someone in your club would have a problem with it. It is a fact that unarmed black males get shot by the police all the time. The police lie then they get to go on paid vacation. OK, you don't have it in you to care, but I do. Wake up fool. And I'm sorry for giving you more than your fair share to think about in one day.

Posted by: dome1 | November 15, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

And since you felt it necessary to speak for someone who's taunting the father of his murdered son, it's obvious what kind you are too.

Posted by: dome1 | November 15, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

I would like to recommend contacting Nancy Grace at Swift Justice or Judge Jeanne Perrot for information on this matter. You need council from someone well briefed on your specific matter to find answers and launch a legal plan to answer your questions. You may also get computer advice.

Posted by: lalafremd | November 17, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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