Yvonne McDonald, a beloved Black community member would have turned 58 this past June 23, 2020. She was an aunt, a sister, and an activist. On August 7, 2018, Yvonne was reportedly found by a street sweeper near her home in West Olympia laying on the lawn of a vacant home. It was early morning, and Yvonne was unconscious and covered in bruises, cuts, and scratches. Yvonne died in the hospital that night from severe trauma, hypothermia, and blood loss. The investigation into her death was brief and lacked care. No relevant witnesses were interviewed, the crime scene was not treated as such, and evidence shown in photographs has been lost or destroyed. Instead officials pushed a false racist narrative and blamed Yvonne for her own death.
Over two years later, her loved ones are still grieving with countless unanswered questions. City and county officials, including prosecutor Jon Tunheim and coroner Gary Warnock, have blatantly ignored Yvonne’s family and remained silent when confronted with the lies, contradictions, and evidence family members have uncovered.
Yvonne’s niece has spent the last two years working tirelessly for answers and justice. Many discrepancies and disturbing pieces of evidence have been uncovered from police reports, paramedic reports, and other public records requests. The only known people to have contact with Yvonne after she was injured told three different accounts as to where they found her, her physical state and the amount of clothing she had on. All reports by police officers and medics contradict each other in many ways. Yvonne was never treated like a valuable human being or a victim. The street sweeper who is a 20 plus year city employee didn’t call 911, and paramedics were dispatched at the lowest priority level. Police and paramedics did not provide Yvonne with any life saving interventions, the city employee, police officer and paramedics did not provide proper medical aid not even cpr and left her partly naked, unconscious, and suffering dragging her almost lifeless body on the ground while staging the scene and taking photographs. The coroner has ruled the manner of her death as undetermined despite evidence that she was struck by a vehicle. He never even went to the crime scene. Photos taken the day she was injured at the scene we’re not time stamped or dated and standard investigative protocols we’re not followed at all. Several pieces of key evidence including clothing she was wearing that day we’re either lost or destroyed and police and city officials refuse to account for them.
The County Coroner has a duty according to Washington State law to call for an inquest in cases where the manner of death has been ruled undetermined. Yvonne died of excessive bleeding due to blunt force trauma and hypothermia. She was murdered and the only reason no one has been arrested and charged is because she was a Black woman.
It is the family’s belief that officials are intentionally covering something up. Many public records that should have been released in full to family members have had portions withheld, including the coroner’s report, autopsy and other post mortem reports. A lawsuit was filed to get these records released, and a Lewis County judge dismissed the the case unjustly before even having the case heard. From the beginning Lewis County impeded justice when they refused to waive the filing fees per Ms. Reed’s request stating that she did not reside in Lewis County, and non residents were not allowed to have their file fees waived. That is not true and it is illegal. They are going to any length to hide what really happened that day.
Anti-Black racism devalues the lives of Black people, as we’ve seen over and over with police killings. If it were a white woman who had been found, or a white family calling for an investigation, the response would have been completely different. Yvonne’s family has tried so many avenues to get answers, and has been completely disrespected and disregarded by many white men who hold positions of power in our community. Not only have they been disregarded, but their struggle for justice has created many new barriers for the family including financial struggles and an inability to access public records and public services.
Will you support the efforts of Yvonne’s niece and sister as they demand accountability, transparency, and justice for Yvonne McDonald?
See the Family’s Demands
Yvonne’s family are demanding changes in the City of Olympia to address the implicit racism that continues to go unaddressed, and an independent outside investigation of her death by the Attorney General or US Department of Justice is a must for transparency and accountability.
How to Get into Action Today
City officials have continuously tried to write off Yvonne’s death. We need EVERYONE to come together and work for justice for Yvonne and for the safety of ALL black people in Olympia! WE NEED YOU! We must hold our elected officials accountable. They work for us and we need Justice 4 Yvonne McDonald. The Olympia City Council should have contacted the Attorney Generals office months ago. Instead, they are allowing the city manager Jay Burney to select who reviews the case file.