It's been 3 years since Juston Root was killed by police. His sister still wants answersPlay
Tuesday marks three years since police shot and killed 41-year-old Juston Root in Chestnut Hill.
His sister, Jennifer Root Bannon, said he was suffering from mental health issues, and was leaving a treatment facility near Brigham and Women's hospital when he was initially shot. From there, a police chase began, followed by a crash in Chestnut Hill.
Root Bannon has filed a lawsuit claiming that officers mishandled the situation, but a judge ruled their actions were justified because they believed Root, who was carrying a paintball gun, to be armed and dangerous.
She's appealing the decision and renewing calls for an independent investigation into the events of that day. Root Bannon joined WBUR's Morning Edition host Rupa Shenoy to talk about it.
Highlights from this interview have been lightly edited.
On how it feels to be dealing with the anniversary of her brother's death in the wake of Tyre Nichols' killing:
"With every killing, it's extremely traumatizing. It's triggering not only for me, but also other impacted family members that I've spoken to over the last several weeks. On Friday, Jan. 27, when they released Tyre Nichols — the horrific body-worn camera footage — that was my brother's 44th birthday.
"Hearing those officers running — and I couldn't watch it because it had that same feeling of, 'we're rushing, we're going to get him.' And I just I had to turn it off. We need it to end. We need it to stop."
On the part race plays in police shootings, as Nichols was black and Root was white:
"For me, any any police killing, especially egregious ones like George Floyd, like my brother, like Tyre Nichols, they're just shocking. But what I want to say is that it's happening to a lot of people and predominantly, yes, Black and brown communities, but it's also happening to the mentally ill."
On the police reforms she'd like to see implemented:
"I want to see an end to qualified immunity; fatal shootings by police be independently investigated. I want to see more community-based policing. I also think it's helpful for them to have more crisis intervention training."
"It feels unbelievable. I still can't believe that this happened."
On her life since her brother died:
"It feels unbelievable. I still can't believe that this happened ... I actually had to drive past where my brother was killed to get here today. I can only describe it as profoundly life changing. And the more that I immerse myself in this, the more that I see that one, my family is not alone, unfortunately, we also realize that daily, new families are joining us in this club that we do not want any more members and nobody wants to be a part of it."
On connecting with other families impacted by police shootings and whether that's helped her heal:
"There has been no time for healing. This is all fight. And actually, the fact that we're sitting here, three years later, and not one elected official has taken action, is appalling. And I know that with this new administration, I have hope that there will be an independent investigation. There has to be. And by the way, I'm not stopping until there is."
This segment aired on February 6, 2023.