SUMTER, S.C. — Three years after he walked these roads for the last time, family and friends of Aaron Jacobs marched to the spot on Patriot Parkway in Sumter where the young man was shot and killed in an altercation with a police officer.
About 40 marchers, many of them relatives of Jacobs, recently retraced his steps in the early morning in a walk from a relative’s home on Cane Savannah Road to a small makeshift memorial in a field near the intersection with Louella Lane. They marched partly to memorialize their loved one, and partly to protest that no charges were ever filed in his death.
“Every time we get here, it’s still fresh, like the first day it happened,” said Jacobs’ older brother Tim Jacobs, standing near a small wooden cross marked with his brother’s childhood nickname “Nine.”
On Sept. 28, 2010, the 25-year-old Jacobs was stopped while walking on the side of Patriot Parkway by Sumter police officers who thought he matched the description of a suspect in a carjacking earlier that morning. After a struggle, Jacobs was shot and killed when he reportedly pulled a handgun from his waistband.
After an investigation, the shooting was ruled justifiable, and prosecutors declined to pursue any charges against the officers involved. A different man was later identified as the suspected carjacker.
In the three years since, Jacobs’ family has marked the anniversary of his death with a march along Patriot Parkway. This year, the group carried homemade signs decrying the shooting and plastered with photos of Jacobs. As they made their way past small homes on a shady residential section of Eagle Road headed toward the Parkway, a few of the protesters would occasionally break into a chant, “We want justice, we want justice.”
While the event was tinged with sadness, several of the marchers laughed, shouted and sang while smaller children ran alongside the marchers’ route to keep up. The atmosphere matched the memories Jacobs’ sister Paula “Pepa” Harvin has of her brother.
“(I remember) his friendly spirit, being with his family, the laughter, and most of all him just aggravating everybody,” she said. “We keep this going to remember him.”
“The reason we do this is to keep him here,” Tim Jacobs said. “This brings him back to us.”
Jacobs’ cousin Tiffany Archie organized the march, and after reaching the Patriot Parkway memorial, she helped pull weeds from around the cross.
“Mainly I just remember the good times,” she said. “I picture him walking along here. He was always walking this way. His aunt lives over there, and we have cousins back there,” she said, pointing along the parkway.
After standing around in the field for a while talking about Nine and taking cellphone pictures of each other’s signs, the marchers walked back to the roadway and headed back the way they came, at least until next year.