KENT, Wash. — When a police officer shot and killed Sonia Joseph’s son in 2017, she vowed to change laws regarding police policies.
While she worked to pass Initiative 940, establishing new restrictions and reforms for police, Joseph said the murder of George Floyd in 2020 played a “huge role” in state lawmakers taking action during the 2021 legislative session.
“His death brought about change in Washington state and across the world,” said Joseph. “The world got to witness an unarmed Black man murdered by police.”
Joseph said those images likely helped several police reform bills pass, including ones calling for prohibiting chokeholds and limiting when police can chase after suspects.
Her son, Giovonn Joseph-McDade, was 20 years old when Kent police shot and killed him during a chase.
In April of 2021, the City of Kent settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Joseph for $4.4 million.
A city spokesperson maintained the officers were not in violation of any laws.
Joseph set out to change those laws.
She said her son was pulled over for having expired tabs, but said he got scared and drove off.
After getting in a chase with Joseph-McDade, officers fired at his car when he started driving towards them.
Under the law Joseph supported in 2021, law enforcement officers can no longer chase after someone for having expired tabs.
Joseph hopes to return to Olympia next year to try and pass a law to prohibit officers from being able to pull over a driver for having expired registration stickers.
Joseph thinks lawmakers won’t forget what happened to Floyd, just like she’ll never forget what happened to her son.
“I’m still not going to stop,” said Joseph.