Seattle Reporter Wins Justice Award After Revealing Police In Her Area Weren’t Properly Investigating a Shooting.

Tonya Mosley
(Image Credit: Malcolm Smith for The Stranger.)

On April 24th, 2014, 20-year-old DeSzaun Smallwood was gunned down Seattle’s Central District. Two other murders had taken place in the area prior to Smallwood’s. Police told the media that they had conducted a through investigation, but were having trouble gathering details from residents in the area due to the “No Snitch Code.”

When reporter Tonya Mosley decided to investigate for herself by going door-to-door in the area, residents told her a different story. She wrote about her experience for The Stranger,

So I went door-to-door on the block where Smallwood died and asked: “Did a police detective come to talk with you after the shootings?”

Everyone I spoke to responded with a resounding “No.”

And these were not people trying to get someone off their front porch. They weren’t saying, “No, go away.” They were perplexed and curious, as if to say, “Were the police supposed to come talk to me?”

My neighbors did, however, share sightings of unfamiliar cars speeding down the street after the shootings and detailed descriptions of two groups of guys fighting minutes before Smallwood’s murder. Police, they say, never talked to them about any of this. Some of them even called dispatch themselves, to share what they saw or heard that night.

Seattle Police responded to Mosley’s article and Smallwood’s killer, was eventually caught and charged with murder.

Mosley’s actions and subsequent reportage exposed how criminal investigations are often neglected and overlooked in low-income neighborhoods. The Washington State Association for Justice honored Mosley for “excellence in journalism” for the piece. Read it here.