Justice for Devonna Walker — The unresolved stabbing of a young woman

Devonna Walker

On the night of January 2, 2023, Devonna Walker was a victim of a fatal stabbing incident that took place in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The 29-year-old was captured on video arguing with a couple outside her home. As the argument became heated, the man threw a string of racial slurs at Walker and stabbed her. Walker succumbed to her injuries after being transferred to a local hospital.

Public outrage over the murder case came after the investigators released the two suspects from custody mere moments after questioning. Walker’s family called the crime a “racist and senseless act” and alleges that the suspects were her neighbors who had threatened her in the past. ‘Justice for Devonna’ became the slogan for the protests held by the community.

The Cedar Rapids Police Department has yet to make an arrest in the Devonna Walker murder case

According to Devonna Walker’s family, it was not the first time that an altercation had happened between her and the neighboring couple. In one previous incident, the couple had wished death upon her and made her feel unsafe. They were also comfortable using racial slurs against her.

Although the argument that occurred on January 2 was caught on camera and the evidence showed the man stabbing her, the Cedar Rapids Police Department has yet to press any charges against the couple.

On the other hand, the police released them immediately after questioning and refused to update Walker’s family on the progress of the investigation. Walker’s mother, Lasean Boles, said that the police have not informed her of anything about the case and have not kept her in the loop.

“I want to know what is going on. How come no one has knocked on my door, no police, nobody has contacted me? I don’t know…I don’t even know where my baby [is] at. I ain’t seen her since this all happened,” said Boles.

The lack of transparency in the investigation sparked a community-wide ‘Justice for Devonna’ protests

On January 9, a week after the murder, Walker’s family and friends gathered in front of the Linn County Courthouse to protest against the lack of lawful action and communication in the investigation.

The peaceful demonstration sent a clear message – Justice For Devonna – and sought answers for her death. Walker’s sister, Manikka Petties, said:

“There are too many times that people are losing their lives. There are too many times when women are being killed, being hurt, and nobody’s doing nothing about it and it’s time that it stops.”

Another protest took place two days later, led by activist organizations such as the Advocates of Social Justice and Parents Against Violence Everywhere.

The Vice President of the Advocates for Social Justice board, Angelina Ramirez, said that the protests aimed to compel the police department to “make an arrest in Devonna’s killing as soon as possible”. She wrote:

“The absence of an arrest and lack of transparency with the case further erodes trust between the Black community and law enforcement. … The racist nature of Devonna’s killing should be met with the utmost seriousness and pursued to the furthest extent permitted by law.”

Similarly, the co-founder of Parents Against Violence Everywhere, Jimaine Cooper, plans on hosting additional protests to bring justice for Walker.

The police released a statement citing the need for further investigation to press any charges against the suspects

In light of the protests, Police Chief Wayne Jerman and Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks finally broke their silence and gave a joint public statement on January 11.

They wrote that the investigators were not in the position to disclose the details of the case due to its current status as an ongoing investigation.

Even though the police acknowledged and sympathized with the Walker family’s plea for answers, they upheld their reasons for deferring progress, citing the need for further investigation to determine the applicability of charges and make an actual arrest in the case.

“It is not uncommon for an investigation to take days, weeks, even months until the necessary evidence is gathered to decide whether criminal charges are warranted… The process of a homicide investigation requires us to be deliberate and thorough in order to get the answers necessary to determine what, if any, criminal charges may be appropriate,” said the statement.

The police also cautioned against inaccurate information being spread about the case online and dismissed the concerns as “speculative commentary”.

Devonna Walker is survived by her three children, the youngest of which is only two months old and her family is raising funds to finance the lives of her children in her absence.