It was just after 2:30am on September 8th when 24-year-old Bennie Branch was pulled over by a Tacoma police officer in the 3400 block of Portland Avenue. Bennie had multiple warrants out for his arrest, but his family say he was in the area checking on his mother who was homeless. There are conflicting reports as to what happened and the Pierce County Sherriff’s Department is still investigating. Media reports do not say why the police officer pulled Bennie over. Family members say that Bennie ran from the police officer and was shot in the back. They found a pistol on the ground near Bennie. Family members claim this was an airsoft pistol that shot pellets. Bennie Branch is the twenty-first Tacoma homicide of 2019.
I have never written about a police involved shooting that did not have conflicting reports of exactly what happened. However, it is uncommon for the police departments involved to release so little information. This may be due to a recent change in state law that requires any police involved shooting to be investigated by a separate agency which is why the Pierce County Sherriff’s Department is investigating the Tacoma Police Department shooting.
Typically there are one or two police involved shootings in Tacoma every year, but like every other metric for homicides in this city, police involved shootings have increase. This is the third police involved shooting of 2019.
As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for friends and family of Bennie who want to share thoughts or memories about Bennie.
The day before his death, 38-year-old Jahleen Mitchell got $50 from his mother and gave half of it to a homeless man in need. He was a former military police officer and was planning on being a commercial pilot. On the afternoon of September 5th he had an altercation with a 40-year-old man in People’s Park near South 10th and L Streets. It isn’t known how the altercation started. What is known is that Jahleen did his best to avoid the conflict, running into the park. A knife fell from his backpack while he was running. The man chasing him picked it up. Jahleen lost his footing and fell. His attacker stabbed him and punched him repeatedly. Jahleen managed to get back to his feet and headed towards a nearby convenience store where other pedestrians tried to help him. Jahleen’s attacker then ran off. Jahleen was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he later died from his wounds becoming the twentieth Tacoma homicide of 2019.
Jahleen’s attacker was later arrested and charged with first and second degree murder. If he’s convicted he will spend the rest of his life behind bars thanks to Washington’s ‘Three Strikes’ law and two previous convictions for violent crimes.
This sort of homicide is the very definition of senseless. Even the attacker’s father admits this never should have happened. For the first time in over a decade we’ve had more twenty homicides in a year.
Jahleen was born in Jamaica but moved with his family to Tacoma at the age of six. He graduated from Mt. Tahoma High School and was the proud father of an eight-year-old daughter. His family meant everything to him and his generosity was one of his defining traits. It’s impossible to overstate the impact Jahleen’s murder will have with his family and friends. It’s the sort of damage one only understands if they’ve lost someone in a similar manner.
As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for friends and family of Jahleen.