Residents Gather, Demand Transparency from Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department

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SACRAMENTO -- April 19, 2016, is a day Adonne Shelby wishes she could forget.

"I didn’t get any information, I didn’t get any answers, me and my family didn’t get any closure," said Shelby.

Her son, Tayon Shelby, suffered a gunshot wound to the head while sitting in his car with friends. His friends fled the scene and Shelby died from his injuries.

Tayon Shelby’s death was ruled an accidental suicide, but Adonne Shelby says the sheriff's department didn't do a thorough investigation. She believes her son's death was not an accidental suicide.

On Thursday night, Adonne Shelby was one of many gathered at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Sacramento, demanding answers.

"It's easier just to sweep it under the carpet, that's the easy fix," said Adonne Shelby. "Let's just call it a suicide so we can go on about our day, just not caring."

Pastor Levon Davis helped lead the rally, demanding transparency and accountability from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

"This community has power," said Davis.

The rally was bilingual, a crowd addressed in both English and Spanish languages, reflecting the diversity.

The event was hosted by ACT: Sacramento Area Congregations Together. The group is a multiracial, multi-faith organization. Spokeswoman Annie Fox says she was pleased with the turn out.

"There was a room full of Latinos, African-Americans, white folks Asian folks, together, unified behind this issue," Fox said.

An empty chair was symbolic of the absence felt. Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones was not in attendance.

"We have it in writing from the Sheriff that the reason he was not going to be here was because the media was going to be here," Fox said.

The sheriff's department said they were denied the chance to speak at the rally.

Phil Brelje, chief deputy with the sheriff's department, said he was hopeful he would be able to address the crowd.

"We were looking forward to trying to address the community and, unfortunately, we were denied, we weren’t allowed to," Brelje said.

ACT confirms the denial but says it wasn't unwarranted. Fox says in past meetings deputies have not been able to speak on behalf of the sheriff.

"Sheriff Jones said he would not be able to attend but that he would bring deputies, and they could speak," said Fox. "Tonight was a night the community needed answers."

The forum was meant to generate conversation.

"I think we can always look for ways to be better and better serve the community, to help people out," said Brelje.

Pastor Davis hopes the conversation brings change.

"So much is going on in our city with police involved shootings, detainees and how they’re being treated, and we just want the community to know what is happening so that we as a group can bring about some accountability."