Family raises concern more than one year after police shooting

Jemar McKinzie, as seen in a 2010 arrest, image from Lubbock County online court records
Jemar McKinzie, as seen in a 2010 arrest, image from Lubbock County online court records
Source: LPD
Source: LPD

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It's been 18 months filled with pain and wondering. To this day, a Lubbock family is still searching for answers as to why their son was shot and killed by a Lubbock police officer last year.

On February 20, 2011 police responded to a domestic disturbance at the Kenosha Court Apartments.

Zitra Rivera had called 911 because she and her boyfriend Jemar McKinzie, 25, had gotten into an argument.

Officer Jennifer Breazeale was the first to arrive at the apartment. "The female was lying on the ground in somewhat of a fetal position. The male had his left hand on her and his right hand raised with a knife in his hand," said Greg Stevens with the Lubbock Police Department in a 2011 interview. "She ordered him to drop the knife at least two times and he didn't."

Police say Breazeale shot Jemar three times and killed him. During an internal investigation, Breazeale was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Now more than a year later, Jemar's parents are hearing that a different story unfolded behind the apartment doors. They want answers from the City of Lubbock and police department – but say that they're denied information about their son's death.

The only people in the apartment at the time of the shooting were Breazeale, Jemar and Zitra. The police already told their side, so we spoke to Zitra to get answers. Over the phone, she told KCBD she and Jemar were both holding the knife at the same time, and that the knife was not pointed at her.

Zitra went on to say that Breazeale yelled and then immediately began shooting. "In my opinion she didn't give him time to do anything," said Zitra over the phone. Zitra said that she told all of this to police when they questioned her in the emergency room-- and then later when she went to the police station and signed her witness statement.

We cannot verify this account because police will not release her statements or comment on this story.

Zitra also said that she was not called to testify in front of grand jury during the internal investigation that cleared Breazeale.

Jemar's parents have sent three different open records requests for documents, witness statements, and the remaining part of the 911 tape, but all have been denied by the city

"They should have come to us by now and told us something," said Jerry Williams, Jemar's father. "We just want the city or police department or who ever to just turn over these records and let us see what happened, and let us know how this ordeal came about.

"Whenever the government takes the life of a young man then they should be accountable. They should have to tell the public what happened. There's no point in this secrecy; what is there to hide," said Matthew Harris, Jerry's attorney.

Harris said that if the city wanted to, they could release the information. On the other hand, the city attorney Sam Medina said that they're bound by law not to release it. That is because the information has been put in Breazeale's "g-file", an internal personnel file that is not allowed to be made public.

Medina said that he sent each open records request to the Attorney General's Office. Each time, Medina said that the Attorney General's Office agreed that the information can be withheld from the public.

"We just want closure…closure, that's what we want," said Crystal McKinzie, Jemar's mother.

In an effort to get the records released, Jemar's parents have gotten hundreds of signatures on a petition and they're not willing to give up until they know the truth.

"Whatever that may be," said Jerry. "If she broke the law she should be punished. If she didn't do anything wrong then that's fine. We will deal with it like we're dealing with it now.

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