On Aug. 21, Nasanto Antonio Crenshaw was shot and killed by a Greensboro police officer. He was 17 years old.
Now, family members are left wondering why Crenshaw was killed after being given little information by the police department.
“It’s not fair,” said Nakita Crenshaw, one of Crenshaw’s sisters. “Nobody is giving us answers.”
According to a police statement released the following day, a Greensboro officer conducted a stop of the car Crenshaw was driving for a traffic violation around 9 p.m. in the 4900 block of West Market Street. Shortly after conducting the stop, the officer determined that the car had been stolen.
“As the officer approached the stopped vehicle, the vehicle fled from the traffic stop,” the release reads. “The officer attempted to stop the car again and multiple occupants fled from it. While the officer was attempting to detain the vehicle and remaining occupants, the suspect vehicle struck the police car. The vehicle then accelerated, and the officer discharged their weapon. The driver was pronounced deceased at the scene.”
According to an update, there were at least two other riders in the car — a 15 year old and 17 year old.
While the police statement did not reveal any identifying information about who had been killed, posts quickly circulated on Facebook, identifying the deceased as Nasanto Antonio Crenshaw, a young Black male. And according to his sister’s account, the narrative of the police statement is lacking.
Speaking to Triad City Beat on Thursday, Nakita said that she spoke to one of the four other individuals in the car with her brother at the time, a 14 year old, who told her what happened.
According to Crenshaw’s friend, as soon as the police stopped them, three of the other passengers fled the vehicle. The one remaining passenger stayed with Crenshaw and said that he had driven into a dead end and tried to back out when he hit the police car.
“He said it wasn’t a huge hit,” Nakita said.
Then, according to what the 14-year-old told her, the officer shot her brother in the neck.
“He said his neck was hanging down,” she said.
Then, the officer shot him twice more in the chest.
“I feel like you overshot my brother,” she said.
When asked if she knew what her brother was doing in a stolen car in Greensboro, Nakita said she didn’t know. She said he was the baby of the family with four siblings, including herself, and that he was living with their mom and her boyfriend in Fayetteville at the time.
“We didn’t know that the car was stolen,” she said. “We just knew that he had gotten picked up in that car that morning.”
More questions than answers
As is common when a police shooting occurs, not much information has been released by the police department, including the identity of the officer who shot Crenshaw. According to the police statement, the NC State Bureau of Investigation is conducting a criminal investigation into the incident. The Greensboro Police Department’s Professional Standards Division is also conducting its own internal investigation. As is departmental policy, the officer in question has been placed on administrative duty.
Earlier this week, in response to the limited information that the police department released, community activists were quick to try and identity the officer involved. On a police incident report from the shooting, an officer Y. Manuel Ocampo was listed as the officer on the scene. A quick Google search shows that Ocampo joined the GPD in 2019.
However, Josie Cambareri, the GPD’s public information officer, told TCB that Ocampo was not the officer who shot Crenshaw and was instead, the officer who filed the report. The report also notes that the person whose car was stolen is a Jasmine Denae McQueen from Fayetteville.
Cambareri said that the department is not releasing the name of the officer at this time.
Since the uprisings of 2020 and before, community activists in the area have been quick to react when a police killing occurs. In the Triad, a number of fatal encounters with law enforcement have occurred in the last few years including, but not limited to, Marcus Deon Smith, John Neville, Tasha Thomas, Fred Cox Jr., and Joseph Lopez.
Most recently, Guilford County District Attorney Avery Crump found that Greensboro police officers who used deadly force against Christopher Corey Moore on Aug. 27, 2021, were justified in their actions after Moore set a police car on fire and physically attacked one of the officers.
According to Fatal Encounters, a project that keeps track of killings by law enforcement, there have been 34 people killed in Guilford County and 24 in Forsyth County in the last decade. The database has not yet been updated to include Crenshaw’s death.
An analysis of the data by TCB from 2020 found that a disproportionate number of individuals killed by police are Black and a majority of officers involved in the fatalities were white males.
Despite the increased attention given to police killings in the last few years, Nakita said she never expected anyone in her family to become a victim.
“We never thought we would ever have to go through this,” she said. “We had seen something like this on TV but never thought we would have to go through this with our own brother.”
‘I feel like they were shooting to kill’
Nakita told TCB that it took a while for her family to find out what happened to her brother. Initially, she said she started receiving calls and messages from his friends who were with him at the time through Instagram.
“One of his friends ended up calling me on Instagram at like 9:50 on Sunday night,” she said. “He said that the police got behind them, they turned on a dead end, he got out and started running and heard the police say, ‘Stop,’ and then he heard gun shots.”
Nakita immediately called her mom who works as a manager at Sweet Frog and they calmed each other down.
“We were trying not to worry, we were trying to think positive,” Nakita said.
Then, around 2 a.m. that night, a detective called Nakita’s phone and asked her about her relationship to Nasanto. The detective then asked her to send him her mother’s address.
“I asked him, ‘Is there any way you can tell me if my brother is okay?'” she recalled. “They didn’t say anything.”
Shortly afterwards, two police officers showed up to Nakita and Nasanto’s mother’s home in Fayetteville and told her that her son was dead.
“We started crying and we were trying to figure out what happened,” Nakita said.
After hearing the details from the passenger that stayed in the car when Nasanto was shot, Nakita desperately wonders why the officer didn’t shoot the tires or try to stop her brother a different way.
“I know you’re supposed to use your gun when you feel like you’re in danger but the first thing you did was shoot,” she said. “I feel like they were shooting to kill.”
While it’s true that officers often argue that they used deadly force to protect themselves or others, the Greensboro Police Department’s policy manual was updated in 2020 specifically to include how to deal with moving vehicles.
Directive 1.6.4: Use of Deadly Force states that “officers will not fire any weapon from or at a moving vehicle except to counter an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or another person and no other means are reasonably available at that time to avoid or eliminate the danger. Officers will consider the following factors in determining whether shooting at a moving vehicle is justified:
- An occupant of the vehicle is using or threatening to use lethal force by means other than the vehicle.
- The vehicle is being operated in a manner deliberately intended to strike a person.
- All other reasonable means of defense or escape (including taking cover or moving out of
- The path of the vehicle or other evasive action) have been exhausted, are not practical, or are not present.
- Use of deadly force must cease after the vehicle no longer presents an immediate threat.”
TCB reached out to Mayor Nancy Vaughan on Friday morning for a statement about the shooting but did not hear back in time.
According to both the police statement as well as the account from the 14-year-old passenger, no firearms were discovered in the vehicle. The passenger also told Nakita that Nasanto was trying to drive away from the police when he hit the patrol car.
Nakita told TCB that her mother has requested to see any police-worn body camera footage that is available to get a better understanding of what happened.
“It’s not fair to us, nobody is giving us answers,” she said.
Nakita who is Nasanto’s older sister described her brother as a “loving and helpful person.”
He was the youngest child in the family and was set to turn 18 this November. Despite being the youngest, Nakita said he always took care of his mother and his siblings and often played with his nieces and nephews. Nasanto also had twins on the way by his girlfriend who is due in March.
The family recieved Nasanto’s body on Wednesday and is raising money via a GoFundMe to cover funeral costs. On Friday evening, a rally is planned in downtown Greensboro to bring attention to Nasanto’s death. Nakita said that she and her family members will be in attendance.
“We’re trying to stay strong,” Nakita said. “I can get my cries out during the morning but in the afternoon and evening I have to make sure I’m strong for my mom because she doesn’t have her baby anymore. His room door is closed. She can’t yell at him and tell him to turn his TV down anymore.”
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Such a heartbreaking loss. Thank you for writing this story.
Thank you for telling my son story.
We are honored to do so, and deeply sorry for your loss.
“She can’t yell at him and tell him to turn his TV down anymore.”
Maybe instead of yelling about the television she should have taught him about the commandment that says “Thou shalt not steal.” It’s only four words, and it could have saved his life. Keeping his penis in his pants until marriage would have been good too.
The girl was mad and reported it stolen so please get the facts before speaking.
At that time when he was running and ramming a police car, that car was reported as stolen which is why he was stopped. All he had to do was COMPLY. Sadly, instead, he behaved like a criminal. (The other person commenting did have the correct facts before speaking – the car had been reported as stolen even though he was supposedly driving his mother’s car. )
What were the costs of Nasanto’s crimes on his community, this and other incidences? Interview his neighbors. This is not a popular opinion, but we as a community have to acknowledge why Nasanto is dead. He stole somebody’s car; then he ran from the police; he drove the car into a police car when the police were justifiably pursuing and trying arrest him.
How many young Black men didn’t do that? How many were working? How many were at home with their family? How many opted to hang out playing video games with friends? The answer is a whole lot; the vast majority; damn near all. Nasanto isn’t dead because he’s Black. He wasn’t a criminal because he’s Black. He stole shit because he decided to go that way. To look at the breadth of his actions and only come to the conclusion that he died because of Blackness is racist. It denies the multitudes who, despite experiencing the same bigotry that Nasanto no doubt faced, do the right thing every day.
Our common pursuit of racial justice doesn’t mean that people in our community have an obligation to be stolen from, to be assaulted, to be injured from someone else’s selfish recklessness. There are police arrests and shootings that were clearly not justified, but Nasanto is dead because of actions he took, actions that he and only he could have prevented.
Now that the body cam video is out, the true story is out. The officer was justified in the shooting as the suspect was driving his vehicle at the officer. Good job GPD!