A public trash with a pyramid-shaped space on top with the word recycle. The side features art tiles and an image of a little boy

Artwork Honors Pedie Perez Outside Richmond Store Where He Was Killed

A public trash with a pyramid-shaped space on top with the word recycle. The side features art tiles and an image of a little boy

A receptacle with artwork honoring Richard “Pedie” Perez was unveiled Saturday outside the Richmond liquor store where he was gunned down by police in 2014.

Story and visuals by Denis Perez-Bravo

The faces of Richard “Pedie” Perez III as a little boy, teen and young man now adorn a receptacle in the place where he was killed by Richmond Police 10 years ago.

The artwork was unveiled May 18 by his parents, Julie and Rick Perez, in a ceremony attended by community members, county and city officials, and police officers.

The design by lead artist John Toki features mosaic beads, with images of Pedie as the centerpiece.

“I’m grateful more people are going to see my son more often,” Rick Perez II said.


An unarmed Pedie Perez was shot to death Sept. 14, 2014, by then-Richmond Police Officer Wallace Jensen outside Uncle Sam’s Liquors on Cutting Boulevard. He was 24 years old. His killing has driven his parents to advocate for police reform ever since. Jensen retired from the department without facing charges.

>>>From the Archives: Six Months Later, Family of ‘Pedie’ Calling for Officer to Be Charged

In 2016, the Perez family settled a wrongful death civil suit against Jensen for $850,000. In 2018, Richmond’s Community Police Review Commission upheld a complaint that Jensen used unnecessary force against Perez. It found that the officer’s testimony “attempting to justify his use of lethal force was inconsistent with the evidence” and that Perez posed “no threat to Jensen or anyone else at the scene.”

In September 2023, Richmond City Council declared Sept. 14 Richard “Pedie” Perez III Day, initiating an art project dedicated in his honor.

The following November, the Richmond Police Department introduced a cultural competency training program, in which Rick Perez has been involved.

“I addressed all these new recruits, young guys,” Rick said, “and I told them, ‘My son looked very much the same age as you guys are. And my son was 24.’ ”

He said his words seemed to resonate with the recruits, their demeanor changing as he spoke about someone their age.

“I’m grateful the young guys are learning, and the seasoned professionals need to learn as well,” Rick said.


Richmond Police Department Crime Prevention Manager Michelle Milam was among those who helped develop the cultural competency training. She recalled Rick’s impactful words at the inaugural training session.

“He said, ‘When you make that decision, you have to be sure because there’s a family that stands there,’ ” Milam said.

Milam said RPD’s evolution since Perez’s killing has been a decade-long process.

“Somebody asked me, ‘Could this have happened 10 years ago?’ ” Milam said about the cooperation among Perez’s family, the community and the police department. “My answer was no, because of all the pain and harm that was done.”

Today, Milam hopes the RPD is taking the right steps to mend the gap between it and the community.

Some attendees wore crewneck sweaters decorated with an image of a certificate of remembrance for Perez signed by Richmond Police Chief Bisa French in November 2023.


“While there is nothing that will ever be able to mend your loss, we thank you sincerely for being willing to work together with us to honor the memory of Pedie and help us grow and learn as an organization and update our Cultural Competency Training,” the certificate read.

The back of the sweater features a picture of Rick holding the certificate alongside French, Milam, City Council member Soheila Bana, and three other officers.


“I love every Tuesday when I see your face, and Patricia and all of the family making public comments so that we don’t forget what happened to Pedie,” council member Claudia Jimenez said, referring to Pedie’s grandmother.

Jimenez acknowledged that police use of excessive and unnecessary force is still an issue, citing a recent incident involving Richmond Police Sgt. Alexander Caine allegedly shoving Kwesi Guss, a bystander who was filming police activity, and then tackling him with another officer.

However, Jimenez expressed hope that such incidents do not overshadow the RPD’s efforts to build community relations.

For Perez’s family and their supporters, the fight for police reform continues.

“The law enforcement culture needs to change as well as them understanding the culture of the city of Richmond,” Rick said. “Thank you all for being here and acknowledging that we have a lot of work to do.”

No Comments

Post A Comment

Enjoy our content?