As voters nationwide head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 6, the issue of police use of deadly force remains in the headlines and among the top of citizens’ concerns. Here in Washington State, Initiative 940 aims to instill police reforms by requiring law enforcement to receive violence de-escalation, mental-health, and first-aid training, and provide first-aid; and change standards for use of deadly force, adding a “good faith” standard and independent investigation.
The passage of I-940 is important to many people, with the families of those killed by police use of deadly force among the frontrunners pushing for a win. The family of Jackie Salyers has been actively working in I-940 since the beginning. Killed by police bullets on Jan. 28, 2016, she was just 32 years old and pregnant at the time of her death. Her family has always said that her death would not be in vain, and see I-940 as a way to bring healing to communities. Now, filmmaker and executive producer Monique L. Stinson is also joining the fight to do something about police killings by launching a film documentary about Salyers’ story and its aftermath.
In Tacoma on Sept. 21 with Portland-based field producer Jake Schnack, the two have begun scoping out people and places for the film, starting with Sawyer Park, the site of Salyers’ untimely death, and initial interviews with neighbors who witnessed the shooting. Stinson, a producer and casting director, brings solid experience in television and film, having worked in the industry on more than 40 projects for MTV, FOX, Lifetime, Bravo, ABC, NBC, CBS, SY-FY and more. She shared in two Daytime Emmy awards for her work among the crew as producer of the reality courtroom show “Christina’s Court.” She has worked in front of the camera, including the Los Angeles talk show “Good Morning Lala Land;” “For da Love of Money,” a 2012 comedy film she made an appearance in; and the reality TV series “Love Shack.” Stinson is also an entrepreneur with two start-up companies, The Wine Caterers and Silicon Beach Coffee Company.
It was Salyers’ uncle and Puyallup Tribal Council member James Rideout who first met Stinson at the Las Vegas airport. The two got to talking and Rideout shared Salyer’s story – and it touched Stinson deeply.
“The story just moved me,” she said. “I could tell that he really wanted to tell the story and get some exposure and I thought it would be really good thing for me to take on and get involved with. I care about social issues and I wanted to do something different from the whole dating/courtroom type of genre that t I’ve been in.”
That Salyers was Native American (a member of the Puyallup Tribe) and a woman, Stinson said she feels that Salyers’ story will give another point of view, that of someone who suffered under police violence the way African-American men have been and continue to be.
“This has drawn me right now because it has to be told, and the timing is right with what’s going on around our country on many different fronts. Black people should know they’re not the only ones affected by police shootings.”
Stinson and Schnack have put out a casting call locally for people that were around or witnessed the events surrounding Slayers’ death. If interested, call (323) 642-9186 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stinson said the feelings are still raw among those who live where Salyers was gunned down. “People are ready to talk. It’s been two years. People want justice and people are pissed off in that neighborhood about it. At least the people I spoke to.”
While this project is being self-funded, Stinson hopes that a bigger production house will get n board after the trailer is done and sent out to the media.
“If this whets the appetite of a big production house with a bigger budget, we’d love to have them come and really knock this thing out,” she said.
For now, the plan is to, by Christmas, have a two- to three-minute trailer that includes footage of Justice for Jackie marches, court hearings, meetings, photos and articles and construct all of it into a quality-grade teaser.
“Then we’ll release that to the media and send it out to congress people and representatives here and in California and New York and really get it circulating,” Stinson said. “My goal is to get the story out there and help get this family some answers.”