March 3, 1994
February 18, 2015
Age at Death:
Janisha Fonville was a 20-year-old African American woman who lived in Charlotte, North Carolina. She lived with her girlfriend Korneisha Banks as well as Banks’ baby. She was characterized by others as a happy, kind, and humorous individual, but on her own she had a history of self harm. She was formally diagnosed with a mood disorder and clinical depression that she had been struggling with for quite some time. The day before her death, she was supposed to have a meeting with her counselor, but she did not attend because of a snowstorm in the area.
On a cold night in February of 2015, Janisha Fonville was shot twice in the chest, being killed on the scene. On the night of her death, Fonville’s girlfriend, Korneisha Banks called local police to report that she had grabbed a knife and threatened to cut herself and Banks. She met with the officers outside her apartment to inform them that she wished they would help in taking Janisha to the mental institution she had been treated at before to seek additional help, while also informing them about the knife. When they entered the home, conflicting stories arise. The police report claims that within a few seconds, Janisha lunged at the officer with the knife in hand, he then responded by shooting her in the hand (whereas the autopsy revealed she was shot twice in the chest) to try and knock the weapon out of her hands. In contrast, Banks (the only other witness besides the two officers) claimed that she got up from the couch with nothing in her hands and was shot at first movement. She was dead within seconds on the living room floor of her own home, This was a tragic death that been avoided with proper protocols for the officers.
Was justice served?
As of February 2021, a whole 6 years later, justice has not been served. It was found that while on the phone, the dispatcher failed to ask the caller if the subject had a history of mental illness and gave the officers a very vague explanation of the call before hand. At the scene, the officers also failed to execute their guidelines for dealing with crisis intervention scenarios, in which they were supposed to ask a series of specific questions and find a non-violent solution to the problem. Instead, the call was responded to with irrationality and reckless behavior that led to the worst possible scenario. Upon examination, the district attorney stated it was not unlawful for the officer who killed Janisha to “use deadly force in the face of what he reasonably perceived to be an attack from a knife wielding subject” and he was not charged with any criminal offenses, but was let go by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department following the incident. The NFL took matters into their own hands by honoring Janisha during it’s black history month campaign, “Say their name” in which Falcons running back, Todd Gurley wore a specialized helmet decal to bring awareness and honor to her death.