This wasn’t the verdict Tangela Sears had hoped for.
As one of South Florida’s staunchest anti-violence activists, Sears, who grew up in Overtown, formed the advocacy group, Miami-Dade Parents of Murdered Kids. Over the years she has heard countless courtroom verdicts go every which way but toward justice in her mind, as she consoled mothers and fathers whose children had been slain and whose killers had walked free.
But on Wednesday, in a Tallahassee courtroom, a judge’s verdict sent her crumbling to the floor, screaming, WLRN reported. This time it was her son for whom justice, she believed, didn’t serve.
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Sears’ son David Queen, father to a young daughter, grew up in the same small Overtown home his mother and his great grandfather had lived in. He was shot and killed at the Tallahassee apartment complex where he lived in 2015. Queen was 29.
On Wednesday, a judge ruled that Michael Mason, the man who shot the unarmed Queen and then called 911 to report the shooting, was not guilty of second-degree murder. The jury deliberated for two hours. Mason’s attorney argued that his client shot Queen in self-defense.
Tangela Sears, who for more than a decade would show up at crime scenes and hospitals in Miami to stand beside grieving parents who lost their children to gun violence, screamed in disbelief. She fell to the courtroom floor as soon as the verdict was read, WCTV reported. “He killed my baby! He killed my baby!” she yelled.
Courtroom bailiffs carried Sears out of the room.
Two days later, she returned to Plantations at Pine Lake Apartments in Tallahassee where the shooting happened in 2015.
She told WCTV: “Right here, in this spot, is where my son was shot.”
Sears, who had shared her struggles on social media after her son’s death, told reporters the jury didn’t hear all the information that might have led to a different decision.
After the verdict, supporters from the community and Miami-Dade Parents of Murdered Kids filled her Facebook page with posts of outrage and tears.
Witnesses say her son got into some sort of altercation with Mason, a man he did not know, who also lived at the apartment complex in 2015, Miami New Times reported. Mason, they said, pulled up in his Jeep SUV as Queen finished chatting with another neighbor. Words were exchanged. Both men separated to return to their cars and Queen stopped to check his mail at a kiosk. Mason, they said, returned and parked, and the two men began shouting at each other. Queen was shot twice in the chest by a .22-caliber Derringer.
Mason called 911 to report he had shot someone in self defense.
The jury agreed.
“Damn man … that’s painful,” Anabel Herrera posted on Sears’ Facebook page after the verdict. Herrera had lost her own 16-year-old son, Bryan, to gun violence in Miami in 2012. “Hearing her anguish is so painful.”