Say Their Name: The Story of Kaldrick Donald
Disclaimer: In our exclusive series, Say Their Name, DCP Entertainment takes a deeper look into the impact of the assault and killing of unarmed Black people by the police and in stand your ground states. We share the stories of families who have been negatively impacted by the police. We did not talk to officers or governing bodies—just the families and their support systems. We are not the court of law, nor do we try to be. For legal purposes we are not here to presume guilt or innocence for anyone, because, quite frankly, we do not want to be sued. We simply want to give the families a voice while examining what happens when the hashtags stop and the news unfortunately moves on to the next big story. All we want is to give the families the opportunity to control their narrative and share ways we can all help.
“As a kid, he was out there. He’d be dressy. He ironed. He’d use a whole can of starch on one pair of pants until the teacher would say, ‘I’m going to bring my clothes to your house and let Kaldrick iron them.’ I say, ‘Well you better bring a can of starch for every pair of pants you got, because that’s how he do it.’”
That’s how Juanita Donald remembers her son, Kaldrick Donald.
“He liked to play. He didn’t ask for much. He wanted his bicycle. He had his game and that was it,” remembers Juanita.
Kaldrick was born on August 2nd, 1990. He spent most of his life living with his sister Shameka, his mom Juanita (known by friends and family as Lois), and her partner Gerald.
They lived in Gretna, Florida—a town so small it has just one stoplight and one road in and out. Everyone knows everyone in Gretna, say Juanita and Gerald.
Juanita had Kaldrick and Shameka when she was still in her teens. Kaldrick didn’t spend much time with his biological father growing up. He was eight years old the last time he saw his dad.
Gerald was the prominent male figure in Kaldrick’s life. He remembers how protective Kaldrick was of his mom and how he and Kaldrick would get into (playful) wrestling matches.
Gerald and Juanita describe how Kaldrick loved to rap and was ahead of his time when it came to his rhymes.
“We would be around sometimes listening to the radio and I say, ‘Lois, that song—[Kaldrick] was rapping it three, four years ago. They just coming out with it,’” says Gerald.
They also describe Kaldrick’s trusting nature and giving spirit.
“He was the type that worried about everybody else but himself,” says Gerald.
“Everybody,” adds Juanita. “I could go take him to town and buy him a pair of shoes—he go right over across the field and give them away.”
Kaldrick mostly kept to himself growing up. But around age 17 his family started to notice changes.
“He used to have friends, but then he start talking, like, ‘People ain’t right. Family ain’t right. Police ain’t right,’” says Juanita. “And that’s what he said every day.”
Juanita took Kaldrick to the Apalachee Center, a mental health facility in Tallahassee, Florida.
Kaldrick was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. The facility started him on injections of Haldol every two weeks. But he didn’t always take his medications, which led to problems at home.
By age 24, Kaldrick had been struggling with mental health issues for years. He had become extremely introverted and was paranoid about most people around him. Without regular medication, his anxiety and depression could get so bad that his mother would have to call the police to help him take his medication.
Local police officers knew the family and were aware of Kaldrick’s mental health issues. One officer in particular—Officer Carlos De La Cruz—was good at talking Kaldrick down when he was having severe bouts of anxiety.
Unfortunately, not all officers are as skilled as De La Cruz at dealing with mental health crises, and tragedy would soon strike.
On October 28th, 2014, at age 24, Kaldrick Donald was killed in his family’s home by Police Sergeant Charles Brown of the Gretna, Florida Police Department.
At the time of his death, Kaldrick had been experiencing mental health struggles dealing with severe anxiety and depression. Juanita had called the police for help getting Kaldrick to take his medication.
When Officer Brown arrived, Juanita made sure he knew her son was having a mental health crisis and that she just needed help getting him to take his medication.
But Juanita says Officer Brown not only dismissed her suggestions about how to approach Kaldrick, he also antagonized her and threatened to take both she and Kaldrick to jail.
When Kaldrick saw Officer Brown, he told his mom he didn’t want to talk to him, saying Officer Brown had pulled a gun on him before. Juanita immediately questioned Officer Brown, but he ignored her and started aggressively pursuing Kaldrick.
Brown followed Kaldrick around the yard and into the house, according to Juanita.
That’s when things escalate