Nov. 23, 2017: LA SENTINEL - After young Black man is gunned down in South L.A., Black teens jailed while white teen out on bail
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After the news broke that a wealthy white teen from Palos Verdes had been released on $5 million bail in connection with the Oct. 1 gang-related killing of 21-year-old African American Justin Alongino Holmes who was shot in the back in South Los Angeles, there was an immediate local and national backlash.
According to the LA County District Attorney’s Office, on the morning of Oct. 1, 18-year-old Cameron Terrell was the getaway driver when he and two armed juveniles approached three males walking together in South Los Angeles near Western and 78th Street and shot at them multiple times.
Holmes, who was not gang-related, was shot in the back and died at a hospital. The two men with him were not hit and escaped.
In a statement the Los Angeles Police Department said that Holmes was walking with two other people when “they were confronted by two armed suspects.
“The suspects asked Holmes and his friends where they were from,” according to the department. “One of the suspects fired multiple shots, striking Holmes. The suspects then fled the area in a vehicle. Neither Holmes or his friends were involved in gang activity.”
Holmes, a native of Inglewood was buried Oct. 14 in Inglewood Park Cemetery. His death however has been overshadowed by the fact that Terrell made national news for making $5 million bail for a gang-related homicide and for being a white teenager who is allegedly a member of the predominately Black Rollin’ 90’s crip gang. Terrell is currently charged with murder, premeditated attempted murder and enhancements that claim he committed the crimes to benefit his gang, the Rollin’ 90s.
A representative for Terrell’s attorney told the L.A. Weekly’s Dennis Romero that the teenager “denies all charges.”
Terrell’s two co-defendants are both African American juveniles and charged with the same criminal charges as their white friend. The two juveniles, ages 16 and 17, are currently being held without bail as is typical with minor defendants who are arrested and jailed.
Since Terrell has been freed on bail, he was photographed attending one of the World Series games at Dodger Stadium and initially was allowed to return back to Palos Verdes High School before parents protested and complained to the school which then placed him on home study.
Lawrence Bowie Sr., the father of one of the juveniles in jail for the killing said, “My son’s going through hell in the juvenile system,” he said. “He just turned 17.”
“Because of the color issue, [Terrell] is able to walk the streets and be free go to school, go to baseball games,” Bowie said. “He was in the same case with my son. He’s free to roam the street and do whatever he wants to do.”
Bowie also confirmed what others have said in the neighborhood adjacent to Jesse Owens Park, a known hangout for the Rollin’ 90’s.
“Many occasions he pulled up at my house in his brand new Mercedes-Benz,” Bowie said. “He’s not the person so innocent like the people on the news are trying to pretend. He was down here. He was involved and he was out here with the same kids that’s in this community. He didn’t just pop up this one time only. Didn’t nobody force him.”
In 2015, Bowie lost his daughter and baby granddaughter in a fire in Inglewood on Queen St. “I know the pain and the hurt that they’re going through,” he said. “First of all I’d like to apologize to their family. I’m sorry for whatever happened to their child.”
A youth counselor at Jesse Owens Park with Rizilient Leadership Educational Development Program (LEDP) program and former gang member known as “Nutt” explained that Terrell was a regular at Jesse Owens Park in 2017 and that he would drive around the neighborhood. He also alleged that the teen is “not as innocent as everybody would say.”
“He was down here all the time hanging with these kids,” the youth counselor said. “The streets are hard out here. “Now the pressure is on, you flee back to Palos Verdes to a safe haven that you know.”
“Nutt” went on say that it’s typical for everyone in a car connected to a gang-related murder to be charged and not receive bail.
“It’s not normal,” he explained. “When people are involved in gang crimes, everybody in that car goes to jail. There’s no bail for nobody in that car. So how that was arranged has to be white privilege.”
California Money Bail Reform Act supporters are using Terrell as an example for the need for bail reform.
SB 10, the California Money Bail Reform Act of 2017 introduced by Senator Bob Hertzberg and other lawmakers including Senators Holly Mitchell and Steve Bradford, if passed would reform California’s money bail system by ensuring that people are not kept in jail simply because they cannot pay the bail to buy their freedom.
Longtime civil rights and criminal defense attorney Nana Gyamfi added, “The fact that Terrell is out on bail demonstrates that the standards for bail in Los Angeles County are not whether a person is a danger to society or if they have the ability to flee, but rather about their financial status. The rich get out, the rest of us are caged.”
It is expected at a future hearing that the DA’s office will move to have the two juveniles tried as adults thus paving the way for bail to be set depending on the judge’s discretion. However if bail is granted, it is highly unlikely for the boy’s families to be able pay the amount that would be required to obtain their freedom until trial.
Terrell has a hearing scheduled for Nov. 29 where he could be taken back into custody if the DA’s office attaches special circumstances to his charges.