June 10, 2015
By Rachel Wong
This isn’t the story of another police shooting. It’s the story of what happens after a police shooting. Especially one in particular.
In memory of Idriss
“The night he died I felt my soul tearing apart. He was my only child,” explains Mesha Irizarry. Her son, Idriss Stelley, was 23 when he was killed in 2001 by San Francisco Police at a movie theater during what was possibly a psychotic episode. Stelley was bipolar. But his mother says, he was much more than that.
“He was a web designer. He was an artist. There was nothing that was impossible to Idriss,” says Irizarry.
Suddenly, he was gone. As the police’s version of the story made the rounds in the local news, his mother desperately tried to figure out what really happened. She says she didn’t get much sympathy, because some people felt the police had done the right thing. She realized, “I’ve got to take care of people around me, because if I start thinking too much of what happened, I’m going to lose my mind.”
So she started the Idriss Stelley Foundation in her son’s honor to address issues of police misconduct, and she’s been working relentlessly on it ever since.