Detroit park's new name honors life, legacy of shooting victim

Sawyer Park renamed

Photo does not have a caption

DETROIT – Saturday was a day of mixed emotions for the family of Jada Simone Rankin.

The family members are sad because she is no longer here, but happy about her being honored. Her pictures are displayed on the side of a brick building for people to see. Everything is purple. It was her favorite color.

“Yeah, I’m so proud of her. I’m proud of her,” said Tawanna Rankin. 

Tawanna Rankin has every right to be proud. Sawyer Park was named after her daughter and is now called the Jada Rankin Playground.

It is a place where kids can play safely. Jada Simone Rankin was killed just down the street from the park three years ago. 

“October 16, 2016,” said Tawanna Rankin. 

That day will forever live in her memory. It started out as a regular day. Fifteen year old Jada Simone Rankin was outside her grandmother’s house with her older brother.

Tawanna Rankin said a driver was speeding down the road when her son told him to slow down. That’s when her life changed forever. 

“He proceeded to pull out a gun, shoot into a crowd of 20 people. One of those bullets struck Jada,” said Rankin. 

Police said the killer is still out there. “You brought me a lot of pain, but with that pain, you brought me a lot of joy.  You brought me a lot of tears, but I smile every day, because I know Jada is smiling. One day, you will get caught,” said Rankin. “She lives through me. This represents her for sure, who she was and who she is,” said Tawanna Rankin. 

Anyone with information is asked to call 800-SPEAKUP. 

About the Authors:

Larry Spruill Jr. joined the Local 4 News team in January 2018. Prior, he worked at WJAX in Jacksonville, Florida. Larry grew up as a military kid because his father is a retired Chief of the United States Air Force.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.