xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Anne Arundel commemorates Leroy Perry 40 years after he was fatally shot by county police officer

People’s Park was overflowing with attendees hugging as music about peace and unity blasted in the background to commemorate Leroy Perry 40 years after he was fatally shot by an Anne Arundel County police officer.

People bowed their heads as Bishop Antonio Palmer led a prayer honoring Perry to open the service in Annapolis Tuesday, where an announcement was made that a plaque would be dedicated to him there.

Advertisement

“Lord, we thank you for the strength through the years that you have given to this family,” Palmer said. “Not everybody has experienced the same tragedy that they have experienced and had to carry the burden and the pain that they have to carry.”

Wanda Brown, Perry’s daughter, said there has been a void in her family since her father was killed on Ritchie Highway in 1981. He’s been missed at family reunions, the birth of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was 21 years old and vividly remembers the pain and disbelief she experienced when she found out a police officer killed her father.

Advertisement
Advertisement

“I couldn’t believe it, it’s like a dream, it takes a long time to process,” Brown said.

Although Brown was herself grieving and coping with her father’s death, she was especially concerned about her family as she is the eldest daughter.

“My concern was my mother,” Brown said. “My mother never took sick leave while we were growing up, my mother went to work. It was the first time since 1956 to 1981, when my father got killed, my mother took sick leave.”

Perry, 48 years old at the time of his death, was a father of six and a husband to his wife of 22 years. He was on his way home from work when he was stopped by police for a traffic violation and shot twice.

Advertisement
Leroy Perry was killed by an Anne Arundel County police officer during a 1981 traffic stop. The officer was later exonerated on charges.
Leroy Perry was killed by an Anne Arundel County police officer during a 1981 traffic stop. The officer was later exonerated on charges. (Capital Gazette Staff / Capital Gazette)

Due to the high publicity of Perry’s case, the jury was moved to a town in Western Maryland, which was predominantly white. An all-white jury deliberated for less than an hour before acquitting the officer of manslaughter.

“It was like a circus when it was transferred to Oakland, Maryland, because people had come out and actually acted physically and verbally said that they had never seen people of color,” Brown said. “They came out just like we were all in a zoo on display to come to see people of color.”

County Councilwoman Lisa Rodvien, D-Annapolis, was in attendance to the service Tuesday and expressed hope in the changes the county is implementing, such as body-worn cameras, to prevent future incidents and hold police officers accountable. Training for body-worn cameras began this month and all officers in the county are expected to be fully trained by October.

“There have been some important improvements and I really thank our Maryland General Assembly for taking important steps to make sure that we can prevent sorrow and tragedies like this going forward,” Rodvien said.

Perry’s death sparked demonstrations in protest of police brutality, and 39 years later people took to the streets again to protest the killing of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis in May 2020.

Brown said she does not feel Chauvin received enough prison time for his role in Floyd’s murder. Chauvin was sentenced to 22 years.

Just as she was in disbelief when she heard the verdict for Chauvin, she had the same feelings when the officer was acquitted in her father’s death.

Now a plaque in People’s Park will honor her dad’s memory. President of the Anne Arundel County NAACP, Jacqueline Boone Allsup, thanked the Anne Arundel County Human Relations Commission for approving the plaque.

“We encourage you to continue this good work because the journey toward justice continues,” Allsup said. “The road is long, but we are not tired and we’re not giving up.”

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement