Exclusive Interview: Family of Kevin Johnson Speaks on Racist Trial & Death Penalty

National outcry continues to denounce the scheduled execution of Kevin “KJ” Johnson, in what many describe as a blatantly racist and biased case.

On the evening of July 5, 2005, Kirkwood police sought to serve a warrant at a family residence in Meacham Park, a neighborhood in St. Louis County, searching for Kevin Johnson. Kevin was not present but observed the events from a neighboring home.

The traumatic and violent entry of the police caused Kevin’s 12-year old brother, Joseph Bam Bam Long, who had a serious heart condition, to suffer a seizure and collapse. According to witnesses, the police ignored the medical emergency, stepped over Bam Bam’s body and continued searching the house. Witnesses also attest that police officer William McEntee held back KJ’s mother from attending to her child. An ambulance later arrived, and Bam Bam was taken to the hospital, where he died.

Many community members argue Bam Bam could have been saved if he had received medical attention, and say in other words that the police murdered the 12 year old child by forcefully denying him medical assistance. KJ witnessed all of this take place from a neighboring home, and experienced irreparable rage and grief.

Just two hours later, McEntee the same officer who in essence caused the death of Bam Bam, responded to a report of fireworks in the same neighborhood, and a chance encounter with KJ ensued. Kevin said, “you killed my brother,” before shooting McEntee multiple times.

Johnson, now 36, received his sentence from the St. Louis County circuit court in 2008 after prosecution by former St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney, and well known white supremacist sympathizer, Robert McCulloch.

On August 24th, 2022, the Missouri Supreme Court issued an execution warrant and scheduled an execution date of November 29th, 2022 for Kevin.

Community members say that no one is arguing with whether or not what KJ did was wrong, but they instead say that a 19 year old who acted out of passion and rage following the murder of his little brother, should not face the death penalty.

A growing campaign has backed Johnson, often referred to by his nickname KJ. His supporters claim his trial was riddled with missteps and racial bias, and Johnson was 19 at the time of his crime. In addition, Johnson’s supporters want to abolish the death sentence.

This is what his family has to say as the execution date approaches.

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