Fatal Police brutality against a young Cameroonian

Njang, Sebastien Esapa 

1836 Metzerott Road #1220
Hyattsville, MD 20783

Tel. (240) 643-5819, (301) 431-0430

To: Concerned Members of the Cameroonian Community and all the disciples of
justice and non-violence.

Subject: Fatal Police Brutality Against A Young Cameoonian 

Dear brothers, sisters and friends:

Peter Ayompe Njang, our beloved brother, came to the United States of America on
May 14, 2004 after winning the
diversity visa lottery. He was living with me. We enjoyed a very great time. He
was a very kind, sober, soft-spoken
gentleman. He would put the family together every night for a word of prayer.

On August 12, 2004 at about 8:50 am, he left home (1836 Metzerott Road) to join
our elder sister at white Oak for a job
hunt. Coming from Cameroon, he was still trying to know his way around. So he
got at our sister`s place home late. She
had waited and left. Peter knocked at the door for a while and while no one
answered the door, he decided to knocked at
the window as we usually do.

A police in patrol stopped and asked Peter to leave the area. Peter explained to
the police that his sister lives there
and he was just trying to see why she was not answering the door. She then shot
him. The Montgomery County Police
investigator told the family that Peter was armed with a box cutter. Peter who
was just 87 days old in the U.S. does not
carry a weapon around with him. As a matter of fact` it is not our custom as
Cameroonians to move around with weapons or
armed. The investigator told the family that the police officer did her best to
stop Peter from attacking her. Peter was
shot on the lower breast. He was airlifted to Children`s Hospital in DC and was
pronounced dead hours later.

Our brother was a very intelligent guy. He had ten General Certificate of
Education GCE ordinary level papers, five
advanced level GCE papers. A day after he arrived in the United States, he was
asking how long it takes to become a
medical doctor. He had always loved medicine and thought America was the best
place to pursue his dreams.

Peter was born in Nguti, South West Province of Cameroon on December 12, 1978.
our dad is of late. He was a Presbyterian
Church Pastor and our mom is a seamstress.

Dear brothers, sisters, and friends: we are approaching you as members of our
community and a big family we can count
on, to make sure our brother, this bright Cameroonian youth with so much energy,
values, prospects and hope, does not
just die in vain. We are requesting that you help us use your our community
force, unity and numbers to make sure
justice is done for our brother. This crime could be committed against anyone.
It could be you, it could be me but
together we can stop it from ever happening again to any one of us. We need your

Sincerely, and in pains and tears,


Sebastien Esapa Njang
Family representative in the US


Bryan Conroy, a White police officer, shot Ousmane Zongo, a recent immigrant from the West African nation of Burkina Faso, on May 22, 2003 while guarding confiscated bootleg merchandise in a Manhattan storage facility following a police raid.  Zongo, who repaired African craftworks and drums for a living, had shown up at the facility to work on some African art he kept there.

He reportedly encountered Conroy after leaving his third-floor locker in the storage facility.  He was shot after a brief chase and struggle. He was shot four times, once in the back.

His case, which reminded Black New York immigrants of the infamous Amadou Diallo shooting, has caused a similar uproar.  Diallo, a Guinean immigrant, was shot at 41 times – 19 of which hit him – by New York police as he stood, unarmed, in the vestibule of his apartment.  The force did not discipline the officers for their actions.

“Justice is what we seek, and at this point justice is not on the table,” the Rev. Al Sharpton told reporters this week after Zongo’s wife, Salimata Sanfo, met with city officials and police investigators.  The meeting came after attorneys for Zongo’s family filed a notice of claim to bring a $100 million civil suit against the city.

Through a translator, Salimata told reporters on Monday that, “even though there is a very good police commissioner [in New York] and good mayor,” it may be difficult to for her to get justice because her husband “is a Black man and he’s African-born and cases like this happen here and they never get justice.”

After the Zongo shooting, Diallo’s mother, Kadiatou, sharply criticized the police for slaying yet another hard-working unarmed immigrant.  Sharpton and other civil rights leaders are calling for an independent investigation.

An internal investigation into the shooting by the New York City Police Department is still underway.  A decision on whether to file any charges against Conroy, a three-year veteran of the force, is not expected until this fall.

Conroy has been placed on modified assignment pending the completion of the investigation.

According to local reports, Conroy, who has given no public account of the event, has told associates he had to shoot Zongo because he kept coming toward him.  Friends of Zongo, whose wife and two children still live in Africa, question that version of events, saying he was careful to avoid police because he did not want to jeopardize his legal status.


Outrage is mounting in New York following the death of Zongo, who was killed in a scenario strikingly similar to that of Amadou Diallo. Diallo was shot to death on February 4, 1999 in a hail of 41 bullets. Both men came to New York from West Africa in search of a better life. Both were shot dead by police. Both were unarmed. Both had no criminal record.

Ousmane Zongo was 43-years-old. He fixed African artifacts for a living, in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. The New York Times reports that by dozens of accounts, Zongo was a quiet, gentle man who worked tirelessly to send money to his family in Burkina Faso.

Zongo worked in the same building where another company illegally distributed bootleg compact discs. Police raided the building last week.

Zongo was working nearby and he encountered 25-year-old officer Brian Conroy.

Police said Zongo approached Conroy who was wearing plain clothes. For some reason a chase ensued that ended when Zongo ran into a dead end. Conroy then shot him five times. Zongo suffered wounds to the abdomen, chest and upper back and was grazed on the right arm.

Conroy told officers at the scene Zongo reached for his gun but there were no witnesses to confirm this.

The New York Times reported that Zongo’s friends and fellow vendors said it seemed impossible that he could have run afoul of the law. Kodjo Volta, a friend of Ousmane’s said, “He wouldn’t challenge anyone,” and added that he did not even have the nerve to hound customers who owed him money.

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