Listen to this article here
The Black Wall Street Times

Sign-Up for a free subscription to The Black Wall Street Timesdaily newsletter, Black Editors’ Edition (BEE) – our curated news selections & opinions by us for you.

The family of a woman who was killed in a shooting during a 2022 Memorial Day parade in Taft, Oklahoma, is worried their loved one won’t receive justice as witnesses to the crime refuse to fully cooperate. They also say the local district attorney doesn’t appear to care about the case since both the shooter and the victim are Black.

Three men have been charged in the shooting that killed 39-year-old Sherika Bowler and injured several others, including a child, during an annual Memorial Day celebration.

“We’re not a family that’s involved in any gun violence. This is all new to us. And we’ve just been sitting back thinking people are gonna do the right thing, and now we see that’s not the case,” William Lang, a pastor and Bowler’s brother-in-law, told The Black Wall Street Times.

Sherika Bowler and her daughter. (Courtesy of the Bowler family)

“I live in Arkansas. I have to drive from Arkansas just for them to cancel court every time and reschedule. Key witnesses keeps flaking,” he said.

Family fights for justice for Sherika Bowler

Kendall Devonte Edward Alexander, 25, Skyler Dewayne Buckner, 27, and Keshaun Jackson, 19, all from nearby Muskogee, Oklahoma, face first-degree murder charges, according to the Muskogee Phoenix.

“When it actually happened, of course all of our lives were changed forever. And just getting the first call from someone saying Sherika’s been shot, but we don’t know what the outcome is, was one of the most gut wrenching things,” Lang said.

Over the last several months, witnesses have either changed stories, given little information, or outright refused to cooperate with the criminal case.

Sherika Bowler and her daughter. (Courtesy of the Bowler family)

“This is what I get frustrated about with us Blacks. We can protest when White people do something. But this snitching code is real. We can say they’re keeping us down but we’re not cleaning our own streets,” Lang told The Black Wall Street Times.

Culture of silence after shooting

Over 1,500 people attended the Memorial Day parade at Old City Square, but few have been willing to assist Bowler’s family in testifying against the accused shooters. Alexander, Buckner, and Jackson are currently out of jail on a $50,000 bond.

“That’s the side where it’s frustrating. There’s family intertwined in this. The streets talk and folks are getting payouts. Some were talking in the beginning, and then they go cold.”

Lang said he personally knows that some relatives are aware of who committed the shooting but won’t come forward.

“I’m not staying quiet about it. Those same ones that was talking in the beginning now they didn’t see nothing,” Lang said.

He’s tried to provide this information to Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Edwards, but says he was told it was third-party hearsay and couldn’t be used in court.

Sherika Bowler with loved ones. (Courtesy of the Bowler family)

“Whenever we talk to the DA we’re asking a lot of questions, but he’s not writing anything down. Lang said his family is concerned the DA isn’t questioning enough witnesses in a crime where both the victim and the suspects are Black.

Ultimately, Lang worries that without people willing to come forward and recount what they saw, justice for Sherika Bowler will never materialize.

“All they have to do is talk, and we could be done with this.”

DA Larry Edwards did not immediately respond to a request for comment. We will update this story if we receive a response.

Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply