The Night My Fiancé Died

“As my fiancé’s life slipped away in front of my eyes I stood by, shocked that the cops didn’t perform CPR. When I saw the same thing happen in the Eric Garner chokehold video, I wanted answers.”


I was recently asked to create an illustration to accompany this harrowing account from Gina Masullo for Narratively. The published story is a grim account of actual events as experienced by the author, which includes references to (and complete footage of) the death of Eric Garner.


My job was to represent roughly 22 minutes of reading material in a single illustration, and I decided to focus on the emotional impact of the story, including several dizzying details and moments from Gina’s account.

It’s incredibly painful to know that the events and outcomes are real, but The Night My Fiancé Died has been an important call to action for me and my hope is that the illustration serves its intended purpose.

(Read The Night My Fiancé Died)

6 Responses to “The Night My Fiancé Died”
  1. Tasha Turner says:

    Nice work. Such a sad situation. We have so much work to do in this country on basic stuff.

  2. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

    That was an awesome story, Jess, good illustration. The recent events have moved many to action – including me. Race kept them from doing CPR or anything, really. If you imagine Eric Garner or Michael Brown as a white person, you will get an entirely different response from law enforcement. I hope CPR trainings and refresher courses are required soon.

    • Jess Smart Smiley says:

      Thanks, Jackie. We definitely need more forces for good in this world, and examples of love. For whatever it’s worth: I think you’ve been just that online!

  3. RoosterTree says:

    Great work! The collage-style approach is a perfect mate to the story. Well done!

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