Advocates for Sean Rambert Jr. call for justice two years after his death

Greenville

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — There’s a new call for justice in the death of Sean Rambert Jr.

The 23-year-old was killed by a Greenville Police Officer on July 9th, 2019. After watching the last moments of his life, local civil rights leaders believe his death was not justified.

“There is no justice if Sean Rambert isn’t brought back to life,” said Don Cavellini, with the Coalition Against Racism. “That would be the only justice.”

Family members brought civil rights leaders to a Pitt County courtroom last Friday to witness the final moments of Rambert’s life.

“We saw a young black man, Mr. Rambert, on the ground, being continuously shot by police,” said Calvin Henderson, president of the Pitt County chapter of the NAACP.

Henderson was one of the people inside the room watching approximately six minutes of footage. The first time the family saw any body camera video was in February of 2020. According to Henderson, they saw a much smaller portion of video that day.

“We left pretty upset, angry, disappointed, as to why one police officer could not address this issue without shooting this young black man,” said Henderson.

Greenville Police Officer David Johnson was responding to a break-in along Brookville Drive on July 9, 2019. He saw Rambert running towards him shouting. According to Johnson, the two had a struggle and that’s when he fired his gun.

From what Henderson said, Johnson shot Rambert more than six times. It was later revealed Rambert suffered from schizophrenia. The attorney for Rambert’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in February of 2021.

“This is nothing new, it keeps on happening, this is a nightmare and you can imagine the agony this family is going through,” said Cavellini.

Community advocates said this is an example of why the policing reforms they’re pushing for are essential. Cavellini and the Coalition Against Racism are advocating for a civilian review board for law enforcement among other things.

“If these things are not alleviated, Sean Rambert is just one of the many names that will continue to happen,” said Dedan Waciuri with the Coalition Against Racism.

Henderson and the other members of the NAACP who saw the footage are calling on the District Attorney to charge Johnson with Rambert’s death. They also want to see the body camera footage in its entirety and share it with the community.

9OYS reached out to the District Attorney’s office and a representative told us the DA will not be speaking on the situation at this time.

We also reached out to the Greenville Police Department. A representative offered 9OYS the same statement they did back in February saying in part, “any loss of life in our community is a tragedy.”

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