Vincent Richmond's family demands answers and a 'transparent' investigation into fatal police shooting
Family and friends of Samuel Vincent “Meatman” Richmond are demanding answers, a month after the 59-year-old Peoria man was fatally shot by Peoria police officers.
They held a vigil and press conference on the steps of Peoria City Hall ahead of Tuesday night's city council meeting .
“We’re here today to ask our Council members to support the family as we seek a transparent investigation, accountability, and justice,” said Deetra Bradley, Richmond’s wife. “I’m also asking that the community (does) not forget about Vincent. We’re here, we’re fighting, but we need the community to stand with us and support us on the road to justice.”
Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria said Richmond was armed and put officers in a “life-threatening situation.” As of now, there are no specifics as to why lethal force against Richmond was deemed necessary on Oct. 3 in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.
The incident is currently under investigation by the Illinois State Police, but Richmond’s family, as well as the public, is questioning why authorities are so slow to provide answers.
Others took the opportunity to remember Richmond. His daughter, Shylow Humes recalled how he made deep connections through his job at a former East Bluff grocery store.
“Our dad was, and still is, a pillar in the community to the point that everyone knew him as ‘Meatman’ from working in the meat department at Kroger for over 30 years," Humes said. "As I’ve said at Dad’s funeral, he loved each and every person singularly. Dad’s love was tailored to fit each individual’s needs. [At Kroger] he met so many families that he helped…many holidays Dad spent at work making sure that families got what they needed to enjoy their own festivities.”
Kristen Meierkord, the President of the American Civil Liberties Union's Peoria chapter, personally knew Richmond.
“I live in the East Bluff, and after he left Kroger he would come through the neighborhood, she said. "He used to drive around and make sure that people had meat because he knew that the access wasn’t there for everyone.”
Richmond's family said they expect "full and complete transparency" from the Peoria PD, Peoria city government, and the Illinois State Police Department.
“He was shot by four police officers and we need answers. We need to know why they did it, when they did it, how they did it, and why,” Richmond’s sister stated to a reporter, when asked what she meant by “transparency.”
An affidavit filed in Peoria County Circuit Court suggests Richmond made suicidal comments shortly before his death.
At Tuesday's council meeting, Mayor Rita Ali read out the Council’s first official statement regarding Richmond’s killing.
“I would like to express my sincere condolences to the friends and family of Mr. Vincent Richmond,” she said. I recognize that the family and the community want answers…we ask for the community’s patience as the [police department] completes the [investigation] process.”
But those who spoke at the press conference are calling for more than condolences from councilmembers. They’re calling for substantive city policies that reduce the historical police violence and racial disparities within the Peoria community.
“We have some seriously systemic issues happening in Peoria right now. Mr. Richmond’s death is a piece of a much bigger issue of what’s happening in the city,” said Chama St. Louis, a local community organizer who is also a member of the WCBU Community Advisory Board.
“I’m asking the community to demand more from the people who we elected to get this work done for us…when we were rated the worst place in America for Blacks to live, we didn’t do anything as a result of those conversations," St. Louis said. "A plan that fully lays out how [the Council] plans to substantially eliminate the disparities, improve the outcomes, hold police accountable- what policies, systems, and structures they plan to implement, and how those effects would be measured- this is what we need.”
The city of Peoria denied a Freedom of Information Act request filed by WCBU for body camera video, dashcam video, and other materials related to Richmond's death. The station is appealing that decision with the Illinois Attorney General's Office.
Richmond is the fourth person fatally shot by Peoria police officers since 2017. The law enforcement shootings of Eddie Russell, Jr., Daniel El, and Luis Cruz were determined to be justified by the Peoria County State's Attorney's Office.
WCBU's Tim Shelley contributed to this report.