Lionell Dotson spoke to WRAL News about the legal battle and frustrations he had with the city of Fayetteville while trying to recover the remains of his sisters who were killed in a police bombing in 1985.
Of course we’re here to talk about your sisters. I would like to learn a little about her. What you know about her and just about anything you would be willing to share with me. They died in a fire in 1985 at the hands of the police. They dropped the bomb on their house at 60-21 0th Sage Avenue. And Patricia Dotson was among the 11 killed. They were only 12 and 14 years old. And you’ve already given me a little bit of information. But would you mind sharing something with me, is there anything else you’d like to add? Just as far as they come by, or the bombing itself? Any other information we should know? Well, just a simple fact, this was an ongoing, tragic battle to get my sister’s remains from the Philadelphia coroner. They had them on the shelf for 37 years and it wasn’t until August 3rd, by the way, that I got my hands on them from the coroner’s office and they were cremated at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. And now I can give them a fitting farewell after 37 years of suffering on the shelf at the hands of the field upstairs in the coroner’s office. OK. And did you know the coroner had remains there the whole time, or how did you find out? I only found this out last year through an article that was on the internet last April before mum died and they were kept for what reason I don’t know. I’m still researching that me and my legal team. So we don’t yet know why they were kept for so long. And I finally don’t have to have given them up to me and now they are here in my care. I can say goodbye sometimes. right, ok And looks a bit frustrating. But what was your first reaction when you realized that her remains were still in the coroner’s office and you were able to recover them? I would just, you know, at my wit’s end, okay, why do you have them? Why do I have to wait so long? It’s been over a year since I knew about them and I just feel like they did it on their terms and it just wasn’t right, systemic racism. And like I said before, this wouldn’t have happened if it was a white family. They weren’t treated that way and racism must be fought. Okay thanks. And how old were you when they died? OK. Do you remember anything from that time or do you know how it felt when I discovered the way of television, my aunt told me that your sister was killed in a bomb attack. I thought I couldn’t get the idea that it was only eight years of my bombing. My sisters. It made no sense. And then as I got older and older I realized, okay, I had two sisters. Just look what they talked about. I left Philadelphia when I was only eight years old. I came back, my mother died and I had to find the lawyer so I could get my sisters out of Philadelphia. And like I said, I can drive them out of town now to murder them. I could never hold my sister’s hand, never hear her voices. I never had to grow up with them or interact with them. So the city of Philadelphia took so much from me. Right. And we were your sisters just by standards when the bombing happened? No, they were in the actual house itself. They were trying to get out for some reason. You know the city shot at the house, they threw the bomb at the bunker, the bunker detonated, the whole house went up in flames and instead of putting out the fire to keep the fire burning, wow and remember me, my apologies but have you already collected your remains or are you yet to receive them? I have the remains in my possession. what was left of them. So yes, I just got my possession. OK. Did you have to go to Philadelphia for it or how did you find it again? Well, the city of Philadelphia paid for my airfare and hotel accommodations. I mean that was the least they could do. But do you know that it will not pay at all the debt they owe me for killing my sisters? This is a small step. So what’s next for you aside from maybe legal action, or is the second most important thing on your list actually giving them a proper burial or service? Well I’m still like stage, I’m holding on. I want the Mayor of Philadelphia and the Police Commissioner to publicly apologize for representing the city that helped kill my sister and the Philadelphia Police Commissioner. She represents the police department that dropped the first bomb. So you too. I have an excuse for and I’m still waiting. OK. So I clearly mean a very frustrating situation, but kind of seeing the bright side of things. What does it mean for you and your family that you can provide a more appropriate service or funeral for your sisters at this time? It’s a matter of honour, respect and dignity for them as they have suffered a tragic loss of life as it happened, I shouldn’t be here talking about it at all. But they took them from me and I’m better and moving on with my life. So I can say that part of my life is behind me now that the chapter in the book is done, and just move on from there and just, you know, remember my thoughts and move on. Secure. And any plans for a church service and maybe will it be open to the public or just, um, just be there specifically for the family? It will be private because they have been exposed and displayed and manipulated for so many years. Even in their deaths, they couldn’t rest in peace because the city just wanted, you know, to deal with their story in a box on the shelf, and it’s just inhumane to do that. Okay, thanks for sharing all of this with me. Is there anything I didn’t ask you to share with your story, or that you thought was important for us to share with you? Just don’t turn a blind eye when you see something wrong, especially when it comes to government officials. OK.