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Surviving the loss of a father killed by police

D'Azhane Felder-Johnson is all too familiar with what the families of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks are going through.

ST PAUL, Minn. — As the conversation surrounding George Floyd's death and the movement toward change moves forward, another black man has died at the hands of police.

Friday, Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by police in Atlanta, sparking outrage. The father of four was shot twice in the back and his death was declared a homicide.

The circumstances are different than the Floyd case but another family is seeking what they call justice. 

In St. Paul, D'Azhane Felder-Johnson too familiar with what both families are going through.

"I'm the daughter of Dominic Felder who was killed by Minneapolis police officers in 2006, eight blocks away from where George Floyd was killed by members of the same precinct," she said. "Thirteen years ago I was exactly where Giana Floyd is today. I was in third grade.. I went to school that day and my mom came and pick me up. I was in the principal's office, I was so scared like why am I in trouble?"

She wrote us an email asking to share her story.

Part of her message: do not let what happened to your loved one define you.

A message she hopes the Floyd family and Brooks family embrace.

"I definitely went through many stages. Anger, a little bit of hate. I had to really forgive and understand it is a systemic issue," she said.

She understands forgiveness doesn't always follow for everyone.

"I would not say that they have to get to a place of forgiveness. I just want them to feel. Don't press it down because it was a lot of times when I would (suppress) my emotions," she said. "Scream if you have to. Run if you have to and let it out it's not good to hold it in."

In 2011, Minneapolis paid nearly $2.2 million to the Felder family but that doesn't erase the pain.

"It was 13 years ago but when you are constantly seeing these videos it brings up a lot for me," she said. "As a child I felt alone. I felt like I'm the only girl this is happened to."

Felder-Johnson graduated from Drake University on May 16 -- the day her dad would've turned 41. The memories they created keep her moving forward.

"I liked listening to music with him and dancing with him," she said.
"I haven't let it define me and I know my dad would be proud of me for that. I've recently graduated from Drake University with a degree in sociology/anthropology and a concentration in Social Justice in Urban Education and I plan on making it my life's work."

Now 22, Felder-Johnson also graduated from Central High in St. Paul. She said she hopes to have a conversation one day with the officers linked to her father's death.

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