As MLK50 nears, family remembers teen killed marching with MLK

As MLK50 nears, family remembers teen killed marching with MLK
Updated: Mar. 28, 2018 at 9:52 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - As the world awaits the 50th anniversary of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Memphis family is remembering their loved one who was killed 50 years ago.

The family of Larry Payne met with Sasha Jones at his gravesite.

Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of Larry's death. He was shot and killed by a Memphis police officer.

"How he died, he was murdered," said Larry's sister, Carolyn Payne.

Larry was just 16 years old when he was killed. The teenager marched with MLK and the sanitation workers in Downtown Memphis. The march was disrupted and eventually erupted into chaos.

Larry is seen in a newspaper photo watching as a police officer beat a marcher. Later in the day, family members say Payne returned home, only to leave again after his mother asked him to go to the store to buy her a Coke.

That would be the last time his sisters would see him alive.

"It's hard on the family, always has been since 1968," Carolyn sister.

As the world awaits the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's death, this family doesn't want their loved one's death to be forgotten.

"It won't be forgotten by us and it shouldn't be forgotten by the Memphis Police Department," Carolyn said.

At the time of his death, Larry was accused of looting and pulling a knife on an officer.

Charges were never filed against the officer who killed him.

But in 2007, the FBI reopened the case, along with nearly 100 other cases involving African Americans who were killed in the 50's and 60's.

Four years later, the Payne family received a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice stating the investigation concluded "the evidence does not provide adequate basis for a federal criminal civil rights prosecution" and also noting that the statute of limitations had passed.

The family said they are still looking for closure and want to send a message 50 years later.

"Black Lives Matter. Larry, he mattered," said Carolyn.

Sasha Jones reached out to Memphis Police Department for a comment and is awaiting information on the status of the case.

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