A vigil and rally seeking justice for 23-year-old inmate and father Dujuan Armstrong, who died in Santa Rita Jail in 2018, was held outside of an Alameda County Sheriff’s Office substation in Oakland on Saturday afternoon.
A video released in October showed Armstrong being restrained and pinned to the ground. During the incident, he was constrained in a WRAP device, which is designed to limit mobility. An autopsy report found that the cause of death was mechanical asphyxia, caused by many factors, including the use of the WRAP and a spit mask.
“Dujuan Armstrong was a beloved father and community member who should still be alive today,” James Burch, Director of Policy for Anti-Police Terror Project, APTP, said in an email. “We believe that a complete audit of Sheriff Ahern will show the public what we already know.”
According to Alameda County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Ray Kelly, WRAP devices will no longer be used by detention and corrections divisions. They can, however, still be used by patrol divisions.
During the vigil and rally, Barbara Doss, Armstrong’s mother, held a sign with the words “Justice 4 Dujuan” and “#ShutDownSantaRita” while addressing the audience.
“As long as I’m here on this Earth, I’m going to fight these people,” Doss said at the rally. “I’m going to fight for my son and other people’s children … I got three other kids and every time when I see their faces, I can tell that they are so sad. They miss their brother. I miss my son.”
In a press release for the event sent by APTP, they stated they would demand “transparency” with regard to Armstrong’s death, an “Audit of Sheriff Greg Ahern” and “the shutdown of Santa Rita Jail.”
According to the press release, the date of Armstrong’s death did not match the date provided to his family. Additionally, the family alleged that they never received Armstrong’s personal items from Santa Rita Jail, the release stated.
“As a parent, I can understand (Doss’) anger and sincere passion for disliking the Sheriff’s office. We heard her loud and clear,” Kelly said. “I don’t want people to think that we lack compassion for what happened to Dujuan Armstrong. … No family wants to deal with this.”
In response, Kelly also said the discrepancy between the timings can be attributed to the body cameras’ use of Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC, while the time of death was recorded in local time.
Meanwhile, Kelly said that despite the delay, Armstrong’s belongings will be returned to the family.
“I just hope and pray I can get through this,” Doss said at the rally and vigil. “I’m trying my best.”