James Emerick Dean Death Photo Project

Black and White Film Photography & Audio Project, 2007.

After learning about the death of James Emerick Dean, who was killed by police in my childhood hometown in Southern Maryland, my 2007 photography project invited viewers to reimagine the moments immediately before James Emerick Dean’s fatal encounter with police. It was accompanied by a printout of the Maryland State’s Attorney’s investigation to his death and a soundtrack of suburban life periodically overcome by the thrumming of helicopter blades.

From the Washington Post:

Dean, 29, had received a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression after serving 12 months as a sergeant leading a small infantry division in Afghanistan.

His wife, Muriel, said that he had registered with the Department of Veterans Affairs as disabled but that he nonetheless received a letter instructing him to report for duty in January for a tour in Iraq.

The night before he was killed, Dean drank heavily and began throwing dishes around the home he shared with Muriel. Fearing he might try to harm himself or her, she ordered him out of the house.

“The next time you see me, it’s going to be in a body bag,” he told her as he left.

When he arrived at his father’s house, Dean called his sister Kelly, who, believing that Dean was suicidal, called police after she heard a gunshot. St. Mary’s sheriff’s deputies arrived at the house within several minutes and later called for support from two neighboring sheriff’s offices and the state police.

After several hours of attempting to negotiate with Dean, who threw a police phone out the window and fired his weapon, officers began firing tear gas into the house to force him out.

The incident ended when Dean opened the front door and pointed his weapon at a state police vehicle. Weaver then shot him. Dean was declared dead at the scene about 12:45 p.m.

(Reported by Megan Greenwell , April 9, 2008)