Metro-East News

Man fatally shot by Belleville cops was member of Black Panther group

A photo of General Minister Houdari Juelani, also known as Angelo Brown, was posted to the website of the Revolutionary Black Panther Party.
A photo of General Minister Houdari Juelani, also known as Angelo Brown, was posted to the website of the Revolutionary Black Panther Party.

The founder of The Revolutionary Black Panther Party said one of its members was the man shot and killed by Belleville police on June 23.

Alli Muhammad, a leader of the group, said the 35-year-old St. Louis man, identified by police as Angelo Brown, was a member for at least a year. The group believes Brown, known to the group as General Minister Houdari Juelani, was “assassinated” by police.

Belleville Police Sgt. Mark Heffernan said police “never had contact with Mr. Brown prior to this incident.”

The investigation of the shooting is being handled by Illinois State Police. It’s routine for an outside police agency to conduct the investigation when a department’s officers are involved in a shooting.

Muhammad said Brown was a national and local leader based in the St. Louis chapter of The Revolutionary Black Panther Party.

“What we believe in the party was that this was a political killing,” Muhammad said. “Basically, we’ll be coming out with some more information. This was our suspicion.”

What we believe in the party was that this was a political killing.

Alli Muhammad, founder, Revolutionary Black Panther Party

Muhammad said Brown had “complained for weeks” about harassment from Belleville and St. Louis police while he was carrying out duties for the party, including a time where Brown said his “fliers were ripped.”

“Unlike some of the parties, we don’t go out there talking about any kind of terroristic extremist stuff. We’re dedicated to feeding, clothing, sheltering, training and defending our community,” Muhammad said. “And that’s what he did — he was a leader in the community.”

Muhammad described Brown as being college-educated, a veteran and the father of 13 children.

“He was a very dedicated worker,” Muhammad said. “He did great work in the community.”

Muhammad said Brown did not drink alcohol. Belleville police have said that a man, later identified as Brown, was “intoxicated” based on a call to police. Police also received a report that Brown was armed with a gun.

Police say Brown was armed and exchanged gunfire with officers when they responded to the domestic disturbance call in the first block of West Pheasantwood Drive at an apartment complex on the night of June 23.

“An encounter took place between the Belleville officers and the subject,” State Police spokesman Calvin Dye Jr. said last week. “It resulted in several officers firing at the subject who was hit and later died.”

A small-caliber handgun was found on the ground near Brown’s body, according to Belleville police.

Heffernan said last week three police officers were present when shots were fired, but only two of them actually fired their weapons. All three of the officers were put on administrative leave.

Muhammad said Brown’s mother was contacted about Brown’s death, but was told she was not allowed to see her son’s body.

A request for comment from Brown’s mother was not returned by Wednesday afternoon. Muhammad said Brown had family members living in St. Louis and Belleville.

The Revolutionary Black Panther Party said Brown’s funeral was scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at St. Paul Temple in St. Louis. Muhammad also said the group was planning a press conference as well as a series of demonstrations in July on behalf of Brown’s family. They said they would possibly hold a protest next weekend, but did not disclose an exact date, time or location.

The group also said it will seek legal action on behalf of Brown and his family.

“We see this as an act of genocide, in our opinion,” Muhammad said. “Whenever you have these patterns of behavior, as it appears, of police misconduct and possible police murder, we don’t see it just as brutality, but we see it as genocide and it’s matter of behavior toward a particular ethnic or racial group of people.”