Two Sides is a landmark limited four-part docu-series exploring watershed moments for law enforcement and the Black community at the crossroads between life and death, premiering Monday, January 22 at 10 p.m. ET on TV One. Executive produced by Academy Award® winner Viola Davis, Julius Tennon (JuVee Productions) and Lemuel Plummer (L. Plummer Media) with narration by Davis, each one-hour episode of Two Sides offers an in-depth, comprehensive look into disturbing cases of officer-involved deaths.
Focusing on four headline-grabbing fatal police encounters during 2014 – 2015, the series analyzes and presents multiple points of view of the highly charged cases involving Eric Garner(New York), Ezell Ford (California), John Crawford (Ohio), and Sandra Bland (Texas). Their tragic deaths sparked grassroots social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter, inspired protests by high profile personalities, and immortalized their names as tragic figures in the polarizing debate on police brutality and race.
“Two Sides continues TV One’s mission to represent the issues and concerns of the importance to the Black community,” says D’Angela Proctor, TV One Head of Original Programming and Production. “Inspired by courageous acts such as NBA Champions LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers who donned ‘I Can’t Breathe’ shirts in honor of Garner during pregame warm-ups, and the NFL’s Colin Kaepernick who kneeled during the anthem prior to games for an entire season to raise awareness of police brutality, we wanted to utilize our platform to shine a light on this pressing issue. We’re honored to work with Viola and Julius who have been active voices in the fight for equality to explore both sides of this dynamic equation, which continues to dominate social and political discourse in America.”
JuVee executive producers Davis and Tennon both hope the show can help expand the dialogue around these incidents and provide an opportunity for real change to occur.
“With Two Sides you’ll hear how the incident transpired and how it affected change, or did not affect change. And, how the families are still being affected,” said Davis and Tennon in a joint statement. “This is a way for us to humanize these victims and not make them just a statistic. We also have to look at the other side of the story – our law enforcement’s point of view. Let’s come together and have a conversation around these issues so that we can come up with real solutions that will lead to positive change.”
In addition to discussing the circumstances leading to the victims’ fateful encounter with police, in each episode of Two Sides family and friends share their heart-breaking accounts of where they were when their loved ones died, along with fond memories and recollections of their young lives. Law enforcement experts and independent commentators offer expertise and opinions on each incident with explanations of police regulations and procedures, as well as an analysis of the many factors involved in each of these four unique events.
The series also features commentary from high profile contributors such as activist Rev. Al Sharpton, Congresswoman and attorney Christopher Darden, as well as representatives from various law enforcement agencies and other notable pundits.
“There are two sides to every story,” says Rev. Al Sharpton in the premiere episode. “I believe the policeman has a side; I believe the victim has a side; But there is only one truth.”
“These cases sparked controversy that ignited a necessary movement throughout our country,” says TV One General Manager Michelle Rice. “The relationship between law enforcement and the African American community has been a precarious one for far too long and the conversation around reform must continue. There is a historical and deep divide that needs to be mended. We are privileged to present this unique series which offers an in-depth look into each story from two different perspectives, and hopefully influences an honest dialogue on the fractured state of police-community relations.”
In the summer of 2014, Eric Garner was choked and killed by NYPD officers while being arrested. The 43-year-old was standing outside of a beauty supply store in Staten Island, New York when police tried to arrest him for allegedly illegally selling loose cigarettes. The video of Officer Daniel Pantaleo putting Garner in a chokehold went viral. Although the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, a grand jury has thus far declined to indict Pantaleo.
Ezell Ford died at 25-years-old in August 2014 after being shot three times in the back during a scuffle with Los Angeles Police Department Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas. Competing accounts of the events surrounding Ford’s death sparked unrest and demonstrations. Almost two years later, in June 2016, the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners concluded that only one of the officers was justified in the shooting. Upon receiving the ruling, the Ford family filed a lawsuit against the LAPD claiming $75 million in damages; the case was eventually settled out of court.
John Crawford III was shot by officers while carrying a BB gun at a Wal-Mart store in Beavercreek, Ohio. Crawford was only 22-years-old at the time of his death in August 2014. A grand jury failed to indict Officer Sean Williams and Sgt. David Darkow, leading to protests by members of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the summer of 2015, Sandra Bland was found hanging in her jail cell after being arrested at a traffic stop three days prior. Her death was ultimately ruled a suicide but Bland’s family disagrees. The dispute over Bland’s cause of death led to unrest in communities across the nation.
Two Sides is produced for TV One by L. Plummer Media in partnership with JuVee Productions. Lemuel Plummer and Jason Tolbert of L. Plummer Media and Viola Davis, Julius Tennon and Andrew T. Wang of JuVee Productions serve as Executive Producers. For TV One, D’Angela Proctor is SVP, Original Programming & Production and shares executive in charge of production duties with Robyn Greene Arrington, VP, Original Programming & Production.
Connect with TV One at www.tvone.tv or on social media using the hashtags #REPRESENT and #TWOSIDES