Another young Black man, Ricco Evan Ashford Jr., died a violent death under suspicious circumstances, and the world brushed the incident aside with disinterest.
On January 19, 2020, Ricco, a vibrant artist and young father with a jewelry shop, BLKMRKT in downtown Los Angeles popped over to Andy Dick’s gallery around the corner. Yeah, that Andy Dick.
By the end of that night, Ricco was unconscious on life support in a hospital due to a gunshot wound to the head. Unfortunately, Ricco never regained consciousness to tell his side of the story because he died a week later, on January 26, 2020.
The police report said Ricco accidentally shot himself, but the autopsy showed no gun residue on his hands.
The police report said he fired the gun into the right side of his head even though he was left-handed.
The police report said it was a cut-and-dry case of “accidental suicide,” but Ricco had been stripped of all his valuables… phone, keys, and wallet were all missing when the police and paramedics arrived.
The police report said three white witnesses reported that Ricco had been acting deranged and had shot himself by mistake, which was all they needed to know to close the case.
Ricco’s friends and family have asked LAPD to investigate further because the case's peculiarities left the door open to the possibility of foul play, but the police declined the request.
According to the police, the three white witnesses had given the same testimony. There was no reason to question their account, and there was no reason to find the hands that bore the residue of the gun that ended Ricco’s life.
TMZ captured footage of the shooting’s aftermath. The video focuses on a “distraught and sobbing Andy Dick.” It paints Ricco as an unstable stranger without mentioning that he was a well-respected business owner from the shop around the corner or that he had befriended Andy Dick. Dick appeared to be crying for attention in the video, and a white female witness can be seen laughing as she speaks to a cop while holding her hand in the shape of a gun as she gestures wildly with it. Worst of all, the video shows paramedics inching along slowly even though Ricco was bleeding from a bullet wound to the head.
The video does not help clarify anything. It only raises more questions. Where was the urgency? Where was the empathy? Where was the desire to clear up inconsistencies in this “suicide” story?
Did a LEFT-HANDED man really shoot himself in the right side of the head? Even the existence of the video raises questions. How did TMZ find out about this incident? Who shot the video? How much were they paid for the footage?
We have reached out to TMZ for answers to those questions even before the police dropped the case. Unfortunately, TMZ declined to follow up on the matter by completely ignoring our concerns without any interest in offering condolences or helping to clarify the situation, or easing anybody’s pain. As they saw it, the story had passed. The Black guy was dead, and their interest had only been in the sobbing white, fringe “celebrity” anyway.
Throughout this traumatic incident, the police's demeanor and the silence of TMZ send the same tired message that we have heard so many times before, Black lives don’t matter.
They are wrong. Black lives do matter, and the violent death of Ricco matters.
Despite the inaction and ambivalence shown by LAPD and TMZ, we want the world to know Ricco’s name because he still matters. Ricco matters to his two-year-old son, Nolan. He matters to his mother, sister, and even his estranged father, stepfather, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and community. He matters to me. And in particular, his untimely death by issues of violence in our society because it is time for a change.
Ricco’s story needs to be told correctly. He was not the deranged, suicidal nobody portrayed by some lame celebrity gossip site.
Ricco was a force of light, an upbeat spirit, a success story, a role model, and a loving father. His positive and encouraging attitude brought smiles to the faces around him. Even in the line of work he chose, Ricco literally made those smiles sparkle with gems, diamonds, and gold. He had followed his creative passions to start his own business, BLKMRKT, designing and crafting custom grills and bespoke jewelry. The business allowed him to support himself and his son Nolan, to whom he was the sole provider.
It seemed that there was nothing Ricco couldn’t accomplish. He was a BMX rider who also enjoyed making music and expressing his creativity in various ways. Ricco made anything seem possible with effortless ease. He had so much potential yet to unlock, and he made everyone around him feel that way about themselves.
Ricco always encouraged us to embrace our differences to work together. He was quick to lend a hand to help others overcome their obstacles, and he always pushed those around him to pursue their passions.
To his community, Ricco was a living, breathing angel with the most radiant aura of love and the purest heart, which he wore on his sleeve. His uplifting and joyous energy was so rare. There was no doubt his mama raised him well.
Even in death, he continues to give generously. His heart was donated for a transplant when he was taken off life support. Ricco’s vitality now breathes life into another human as his heart beats on.
In short, Ricco loved life. His absence has left an immense and irreplaceable void in the lives of all who knew him. His violent and sudden death steeped in murky details continues to cause significant pain, considering what a shining star Ricco was.
Nothing will bring Ricco back. His case may never be reopened or adequately investigated. Still, Ricco’s soul deserves to leave this world with truth and dignity so that he may rest in peace, and his loved ones deserve the right to grieve, knowing that justice served Ricco without scoffing at the color of his skin.
Too many improbable details suggest that Ricco brought death on himself. When a young Black man dies from violence, it is often suggested that he brought the circumstances on himself.
Ricco’s mother knows that her son did not “accidentally commit suicide,” and both the forensics investigation performed during the autopsy and Ricco’s missing belongings back up our beliefs. She has already taken up the fight and feels completely defeated.
“To the man who has done this, I forgive you. But you will face God one day.”
Searching for answers and fighting for justice on top of grieving can be an excruciating process and a hopeless battle. We are now just in a place of prayer, trying to connect with his spirit while seeking inner peace to heal.
Ricco Evan Ashford was born on July 16, 1985, and raised in Peoria, IL and Atlanta, GA. He died in Los Angeles at the age of 34. Today would have been his 35th birthday.