Minnesota Mothers Testify to U.N. Delegation About Losing Their Children to Police Violence


Amity Dimick, mother of Kobe Heisler

Painful testimony about Kobe Dimick-Heisler’s death at the hands of Brooklyn Center police in 2019, shared with permission of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, from a panel of public testimony organized by Toshira Garraway.

At a May 2 hearing held at the Urban League in North Minneapolis, parents of local Black men killed by police in the last few years testified to a United Nations team visiting several U.S. cities besieged by violence at the hands of law enforcement.

photo with Kobe from Amity Dimick’s Twitter page

As part of our Re-Imagining Public Safety series, we are sharing these stories one by one. The emotional testimony in the video above is from Amity Dimick, whose autistic 21-year-old son Kobe was killed in their home by Brooklyn Center police in 2019. Just four days before her son’s death, she had said at a board meeting for the Northern Pines Mental Health Center in Aitkin that her greatest fear was that Kobe would be killed by police, because of his mental health issues. He had the mental capacity of a young boy.

His grandfather had originally called police that day — then canceled the call since Kobe had calmed down — for fear of him hurting himself, as he had five months prior. When he was being peppered by questions by an officer in training, Kobe had gotten frustrated, picked up a paring knife, and was trying to leave the house when he was shot six times by some of the four officers in the home. Dimick says some of them knew of his autism and propensity for self-harm.

In her testimony to the UN delegation, Dimick said she asks for qualified immunity to not be a baseline for officers. Accountants and doctors are held responsible when they make a mistake, she says. “How did the police convince us that they are beyond reproach?”

The UN Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement was created in 2021 after the murder of George Floyd. The panel also is looking at responses to peaceful anti-racism protests as part of a three-year assignment. They also have visited Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, and conclude their visits this week in New York City.

A few of the Minnesotans killed by police in recent years, from a poster created for a March 24 rally

Matilda Smith, mother of Jaffort Smith

Matilda Smith shared the story of her son’s wife, who took her life after he was killed by police. “She couldn’t keep thinking about what happened to him. … My health got bad after this. This pain, you don’t know how to get out of it.”

Monique Johnson, mother of Howard Smith

Monique Johnson is the mother of Howard Johnson, 24-year-old father of twin boys, who was killed by police December 5, 2022.

Toshira Gallaway

One of the legislative calls in 2023 has been for funding to support the family members of people killed by members of publicly funded police departments.

The testimony of loved ones of those traumatized by the killing of the Black men in their lives by police — at disproportionate rates compared to white men who are arrested and not killed in the process — was organized by Toshira Gallaway, founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence.