Denecia Dabbs met her boyfriend of 10 years by chance.
The two met as 15- and 16-year-olds in high school when Jawuan James Ginyard was given the wrong schedule. He was smitten with Dabbs immediately and stealthily figured out a way to put his number into her phone. The rest was history.
Over the years, the couple built a beautiful life with two daughters, countless Marvel movie nights and endless laughter. Over the weekend, that life ended suddenly when Ginyard, 26, was killed while being pursued by a Maryland Transportation Authority Police officer in Baltimore County.
“He touched everybody,” Dabbs, 25, said. “He was such a loving person, and he loved his daughters.”
More than 100 family, friends and neighbors gathered Wednesday night in the 2700 block of W. Lafayette Ave. in the Mosher neighborhood to remember Ginyard, whom many called “Wuan.” The group released dozens of red balloons, Ginyard’s favorite color, and held candles as laughter filled the West Baltimore street corner.
Person after person recalled Ginyard’s infectious, bellowing laugh, his deep love and appreciation for family and how he doted on his daughters.
“He was always willing to help anyone,” said his grandmother, Greta Bootsie Stewart. “And those girls, they are daddy’s girls.”
Ginyard’s elder daughter, Aubree, said she loved spending time with her dad and always enjoyed playing with the toys he bought her.
“Good Lord, please take good care of my daddy,” Aubree told the crowd as she looked up into the sky.
The Independent Investigations Division of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office is investigating Ginyard’s death. The office now investigates all deadly uses of force by police officers across the state, as part of a large legislative package of police reforms passed by the General Assembly earlier this year.
The Attorney General’s Office said in a statement that Theodore Jeremenko, a 10-year veteran with the MDTA, had seen Ginyard commit a traffic violation at Conway Street and Interstate 395 in downtown Baltimore, and followed him onto Interstate 95, where he attempted to stop the vehicle. Ginyard was speeding, and weaving out of traffic, the office said.
Jeremenko followed Ginyard onto Interstate 695, then down a Wilkens Avenue offramp, where Ginyard hit a median and was ejected from his car, the office said. Ginyard was pronounced dead at the scene.
His uncle Paul Wallace said his nephew “kept him young.”
“Wuan would just say, ‘Come on, old man,’” the 73-year-old said. “He kept me so busy and forced me to keep up with him. He was my youth and made me think I was 26, too.”
Wallace said the two often drove around in a raggedy van running a car wash business and usually his nephew would drive. After hearing the authorities’ account of the accident, Wallace said he has questions.
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“We constantly rode together and I know he can drive better than that,” he said.