‘Malik Jackson’s life mattered’: Family remember 21-year-old allegedly killed by Tony McDade before he was shot dead by police
The death of Tony McDade, a Black trans man shot dead by police in Tallahassee, Florida, tore through the LGBT+ community. But in the wake of his death and the violence that led to it, another family is in mourning.
Tony McDade was killed by a white police officer on May 27. He was the third Black man slain by Florida police in two months, and his death came two days after that of George Floyd, who died after a cop knelt on his neck for eight minutes.
In the days and weeks that have followed these events America and the world has risen up against the systematic killing of Black people by police and the structural racism that enables such crimes to occur. Black Lives Matter protesters have said over and again the names of those lost: Tony McDade, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and too many others to count.
But as anger and grief continues to swell, there is one name that has been left largely unspoken: that of Malik Jackson.
Malik Jackson ‘was a special kid’ who was allegedly murdered by Tony McDade.
Mailk was a 21-year-old from Tallahassee who was allegedly stabbed dead by Tony immediately before he was then in turn killed by police.
“Malik was a special kid,” Abigail Jackson, Mailk’s aunt, told WJCT radio station.
“Malik loved to fish, dance, listen to music. He worked day in, and day out. He was just a good kid.”
Before Tony allegedly killed Milan, he uploaded a video to Facebook promising to get vengeance on a group of five who had assaulted him.
According to Abigail, Malik was one of those involved in the altercation. But she claimed the pile-on was not a transphobic attack, but rather a case of Malik trying to defend his mother.
An affair turned violent led to the deaths of two men.
Malik’s mother Jennifer Jackson lived next door to Tony. The two had been sleeping together, a family lawyer has confirmed, but the encounters meant more to him than they did to her.
Before the deaths Tony reportedly sent Jennifer a swarm of text messages, professing his love for her and threatening to kill her in virtually the same breath.
“Jen I’m in love with you. I want you,” read one, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. “I’ll kill for you and you,” read another.
On May 25, Tony allegedly visited Jennifer and hit her in the temple with a gun. The next day he returned, the family says, and was verbally abusive in front of Malik, who said he wouldn’t stand for Tony’s disrespect.
This encounter sparked the fight which would later make its way to Facebook. And then, on May 27, Tony allegedly walked up to Malik while he was sitting in his car and stabbed him.
Witnesses dispute how Tony McDade died.
What happened next remains shrouded in uncertainty. According to police, McDade fled the scene of the murder on foot and was confronted by officers on a nearby street.
“Our officer called out: ‘Shots fired’,” said Tallahassee Police chief Lawrence Revell.
“He said over the radio that the suspect had pointed a gun at him. The suspect was in possession of a handgun, and a bloody knife was found at the scene of the stabbing.”
However multiple witnesses reports have challenged this, stating that Tony was unarmed, and that police did not identify themselves before opening fire.
“As soon as he pulled up I seen him jump out of the car, swing the door open, and start shooting,” eyewitness Clifford Butler told NPR affiliate WFSU.
“I never heard, ‘Get down, freeze, I’m an officer.’ I never heard nothing. I just heard gunshots.”
Meanwhile, Malik had died. Tony remains the only suspect in the case.
‘We know they can take out white mass murderers…there’s no excuse.’
Those who have called for justice for Tony say that his alleged crimes did not justify the police’s actions.
“It doesn’t matter what he did, Regina Joseph, President of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, told WJCT.
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“Dylan Roof shot up an entire church and he got Burger King. We know they can take out white mass murderers…there’s no excuse.”
Malik’s family, understandably, find it hard to sympathise with Tony’s fate. However they are certain that were it not for the police, two Black men might still be alive today.
On the night of the fight that Tony shared to Facebook, police were called, and Abigail told them he was armed and had threatened to kill. Tony had recently been released from prison on gun charges.
Abigail says that police visited and knocked on Tony’s door, to no reply. Officers then left, telling the family to call back if he returned.
“I just feel like they didn’t take the situation seriously,” she said. Had officers searched for Tony and taken him into custody, she believes both killings could have been avoided.
More than anything else, she wants people to know one thing: “Malik Jackson’s life mattered.”