In the latest of a string of young black males being gunned down by police or so-called "security" forces, 13-year-old Darius Simmons was shot and killed by John Henry Spooner, who accused Simmons of theft and then proceeded to shoot the unarmed and nonviolent youth in front of his horrified mother. Simmons is one of 30 black people killed this year alone by people working in law enforcement or legitimate or illegitimate "security" work. 16 of these killings have happened since Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman. Defenders of what can only be called an epidemic at this point suggest that the victims are usually engaged in illegal activity or are "bad" kids, but in almost none of these cases is anyone engaged in any activity that would even remotely warrant the death penalty they were given without due process. Many of them were good people who did nothing wrong.
Darius Simmons was by all accounts a good kid. The fun loving 6th grader was simply moving a garbage can in front of his home when his neighbor, 75 year old John Henry Spooner confronted him with a [9mm hand gun]* and accused him of stealing from his home. Darius, who was in school the time of the robbery, denied being involved with the theft. John Henry Spooner then proceed to shoot Darius in his chest, while he had his hands raise showing Spooner he was unarmed. His mom, who was watching in horror, ran to Darius to see if she could find a pulse, she couldn’t. Darius, 13 years old and unarmed, was murdered in cold blood in front of his mother.
According to Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan, he had breakfast with Spooner an hour before the shooting and Spooner told him he suspected Darius of the crime and was upset that the police hadn’t done anything about it. Spooner then told the Alderman, that there were other ways of dealing with these problems. That qualifies as premeditated murder of a 13 year old boy. To make matters worse, the family only lived next to Spooner for a month.
John Henry Spooner was arrested and charged with first-degree intentional homicide. A judge set cash bond of $300,000.
“Black youth are being stereotyped, targeted, and killed by law enforcement and now community vigilantes. This is bigger than the Castle Doctrine (Stand your ground law) , this is about our country’s continued refusal to acknowledge that we are still suffering from the sins of our forefathers. And the more we try to push the racial boogieman under the cover, the more it is going to bite us in the ass.” – Biko Baker
Spooner shot Simmons with a 9mm handgun five feet away from him in the chest, in front of his mother.
Darius was shot once in the chest with his hands raised. He ran to escape and collapsed at the corner, while Spooner attempted to shoot him in the back, and tried to fire a third shot.
After police arrived, Darius’s body remained on the sidewalk, while police questioned his mother, Patricia Larry, in a squad car for approximately two hours.
During the police investigation of the shooting, they searched Ms. Larry’s home again. Finding nothing, they then proceeded to arrest his older brother for having truancy tickets.
In contrast, Spooner’s family was allowed to go into the home and remove “items” despite it being the crime scene.
John Spooner was given a $300,000 bail, (only $30,000 would have to be posted for him to be free). This is uncommon when the charge is murder in the first degree.
This latest shooting certainly brings to mind the story of Emmett Till, the young boy who was wrongfully murdered in the 1950s and whose death served as an early catalyst of the civil rights movement. How many more kids like Darius Simmons and Trayvon Martin will have to die before we do something to change the laws and culture that not only allow these killings, but encourage them.
*Original post edited to include more up-to-date information about the weapon used in the shooting