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A Mayor Tries to Turn Anger Into Resolve

When Mayor Adrian Fenty arrived to meet the grieving family of DeOnte' Rawlings, the 14-year-old who was shot in the head by an off-duty D.C. policeman Monday night, the slain teen's relatives turned on the mayor with all the rage you would expect from people who have just lost their child.

The family shouted and wailed at the mayor in a painful, raw and utterly public venting. Fenty stood there and took it. He waited through the screams and the sobs. He expressed his sorrow and his determination to figure out what happened. And by the end of the meeting, Charles Rawlings and other relatives of DeOnte' were hugging the mayor, putting their trust in him, accepting his offer of help.

Fenty is new on the job, and already, he says, this is the third time he has had to wade into a family's horrific grief soon after a homicide. I asked the mayor what that's like and here's what he said:

"This is a mother and father who've not only lost a 14-year-old and not only that, but he was shot and on top of that, by a member of the Metropolitan Police Department. I don't know how anybody could cope with that. I would expect them to be angry and devastated. If any of their grief and resentment is directed toward the government, I would expect that. There really could not be anything more terrible. I expect them also to demand a lot of answers. In fact, when I came up close to them, I asked, 'What can I get you?' and the mother said, 'Answers.'

"I just kept saying, 'We will not sweep this under the rug,' that I don't know about guilt or innocence, but we're going to get to the bottom of this. I expressed the condolences of myself and the entire city."

Fenty is not given to flowery rhetoric. He's not quick with quips or ready with easy words of sympathy. He has a bad habit of referring to himself as "we." His strength is his presence and his energy, his apparent devotion to getting things done. So what Fenty took from his rough few minutes with the Rawlings family was this:

"To be honest, it's fuel for what we need to do. It kind of just moves you--the amazing strength of people to live through circumstances that are unimaginable to so many people."

Again and again as he moves around the city, Fenty recalls moments from his year-long door-to-door campaign for the mayoralty, and in this case, he recalled knocking on the door of a family that had taken the murder of their son and turned their grief into a drive to establish a park in memory of their lost child.

"We lose too many young people in the District of Columbia," Fenty said. "When we are in neighborhoods where progress is needed the most, even in the most pleasant conversations, I ask how are things going and immediately they say, 'Man, we need jobs.' Instantly. And no question: we have to do more."

Fenty wants the Condon Terrace area--a place so persistently violent that it's named in a definition of jump-out squads, the police units that zip in to try to nab drug dealers-- to be one of the city's next New Communities, an initiative that his predecessor, Anthony Williams, created to bring some of the city's toughest neighborhoods the benefits of gentrification without displacing existing low-income residents. In New Communities, high-crime housing projects are swept away and replaced by mixed-income communities in which market rate housing helps to pay for the relocation of all of the previous tenants in new, subsidized housing.

Fenty says he intends to bring answers to the Rawlings family. But beyond that, he wants to repair a broken neighborhood. " Where this shooting happened," he said, "there is a ton of work to be done."

By Marc Fisher |  September 20, 2007; 7:00 AM ET
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"We lose too many young people in the District of Columbia," Fenty said. "When we are in neighborhoods where progress is needed the most, even in the most pleasant conversations, I ask how are things going and immediately they say, 'Man, we need jobs.' Instantly. And no question: we have to do more."

No, no, no, no. Don't buy into that excuse. There are plenty of jobs available. We do not need any more "jobs programs" in the District. In any society, there will always be an underclass that refuses to do what it takes to find and keep employment.

The mixed housing idea sounds better. Being exposed to normal behavior, the non-workers *might* eventually realize how dysfunctional their lives are, and how illogical their reasons for not working.

However, implementing the mixed housing idea would not guarantee any transformation within their stunted mental outlook on life, which includes the concept of ownership and why stealing is wrong.

Sometimes, there is simply no answer to persistent problems, but to deal with them by way of police action and incarceration. Longer and mandatory jail sentences would help keep lost causes off the streets.

Posted by: johng1 | September 20, 2007 8:30 AM

The mother wants answers? How about this: your son stole someone's property, then shot at someone. Bad luck for him he shot at a cop. If you had raised your son better, maybe he wouldn't have been the type to steal and shoot people. That's all the answer she deserves.

(Oh, and by the way, how's that gun ban working out?)

Posted by: answers | September 20, 2007 8:43 AM

Why does crazy stuff like this only happen in the hood? Its time that people that live in these neighborhoods take some responsibility for the insanity that happens there.

Posted by: Bill Monroe | September 20, 2007 8:49 AM

answers: "Oh, and by the way, how's that gun ban working out?"

Man, we are working on the repeal of these ridiculous laws. Fortunately, we'll soon have Fenty unwittingly working out the details for us at the Supreme Court! Ha ha

Posted by: johng1 | September 20, 2007 9:11 AM

Where were mom and dad when this went down?

Posted by: Robbie | September 20, 2007 9:14 AM

According to the latest reports folks-the mystery gun and mystery minibike have not been found. We have ZERO proof that this KID stole this bike at all or had a gun.

Does anyone remember the incident in PG with the Marlo furniture guys. That was not pretty.

Let's not pass judgement on this kid or family just yet.

Posted by: looking for answers | September 20, 2007 9:35 AM

"The family has described DeOnté as a smart and dependable youth who stayed out of trouble. The teen's father, Charles Rawlings, said that DeOnté had been questioned by police many times in the past year about crimes in the area, including a homicide, but that DeOnté had not been charged in any of them."

He made it to age 14 without being charged with any of the murders he's associated with = "smart and dependable kid who stayed out of trouble"

Talk about low expectations!

Posted by: athea | September 20, 2007 9:56 AM

We have ZERO proof that this KID stole this bike at all or had a gun.
Eyewitnesses, bullet holes and bullets.

That's more than zero proof.

Then there's the story, highly believable, that the crowd gathered around the scene within minutes and left with the bike and gun.

I feel for this child's lost chances, but a lot less than I would for a kid who seemed innocent.

The Marlo Furniture story made no sense from the beginning. I knew 3 kids who at 14 were stealing bikes and at 18 serving time. This story makes all-too perfect sense from someone who has seen it play out exactly like this before.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 11:44 AM

When the cop doing the shooting is also the victim of the alleged robbery, it sure looks like vigilante justice. He certainly wasn't in the position to objectively enforce the law, and needed to let the department investigate the report of stolen property. When he's the alleged victim, it's not appropriate for him to go out to try to recover his property and mete out whatever justice he thought appropriate.

When he leaves the scene, when the stolen property and gun are nowhere to be found, and when the police-related shooting was not properly reported, it leaves a lot of questions. I'm not ready to convict the 14 year old or his parents on the basis of what I've seen thus far. And even if I were, I'm not sure the death penalty would be the appropriate punishment.

Lots of questions here. We need lots of answers.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 12:22 PM

Whatever. What's for dinner?

Posted by: George | September 20, 2007 12:29 PM

NO BIKE, NO GUN, NO EYEWITNESSES (other than the cops - if there is an article that suggests other eyewitnesses, someone please post it). ShotSpotter detected two guns fired so basically that is the only evidence of another gun, a .45 caliber one. However, the white SUV owned by the cops fled the scene and could have taken the gun and the bike with them? AND the gun could have been illegally owned by the cops? AND fired by the other cop??? Would they admit this if they just killed an innocent boy? There is more unknown here than known. Heck, reading the article today: "Yesterday, law enforcement sources voiced concerns about another key piece of evidence: the SUV, which officials have said was struck in the driver's-side door by a gunshot allegedly fired by the teenager." Is the hole not from a .45 caliber handgun?

Frankly, I'm not prone to trust two people who go vigilante (OJ-like) to grab back their property. The officers should have called in the robbery first before going hunting.

Posted by: proxli | September 20, 2007 12:38 PM

THE GUN AND BIKE ARE GONE BECAUSE IN THESE NEIGHBORHOODS, THE THUGS QUICKLY GRAB AND HIDE THEM. There is no mystery here!!! This happens all the time. The fact that some people are acting like the missing gun is somehow mysterious -- including Post reporters who supposedly cover the police beat and ought to understand what goes on -- just shows a lack of understanding of these dangerous communities. The kid shot at the police, that's why he's dead. Do we really think that a cop with decades on the force would suddenly shoot a 14 year old without good reason? Come on.

Posted by: McKenna | September 20, 2007 1:00 PM

OK, I sucked at stuff like math & physics, so someone please explain this:
A skinny 14-year old kid (100lbs?)is assumed to be riding a mini bike, rather than sitting stationary, with his feet on the ground. He fires three shots from a .45 caliber handgun that averages 8-24 foot pounds of recoil per shot, yet maintains control of the vehicle.......

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 1:48 PM

"Fenty is not given to flowery rhetoric. He's not quick with quips or ready with easy words of sympathy. He has a bad habit of referring to himself as "we.""

Just a note, that may be fair in general but it doesn't appear to be supported by any of the quoted Fenty speech. As far as I can see, in everything you quote him as saying, he maintained a clear distinction between using "I" to refer to his self and "we" in reference to either his administration or the population of the District generally.

Posted by: Jon Torrance | September 20, 2007 2:34 PM

This may not be the place to post this but I didn't know where else to put it. I just finished reading the transcript of today's chat, and have a comment about the response you gave to the last question about the student getting arrested at the Kerry event at UF. Kerry did in fact call out to the police at the beginning of the ordeal for the police to leave the man, you can hear it in the background at the beginning of the tape.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 3:04 PM

johng1-Oh like that's not the policy that's been followed since time immemorial?Also, if you are a newcomer to the District, no who agrees with your outlook (Democrat or Republican will be elected Mayor in the District. Your views find more resonance in the great and soverign Commonwealth of Virginia (though less so than in recent years)where presumably answers live. Speaking of which, everyone shoud wait until a final determination by all the investigations. However, given all long they take, what that determination is made all you passionate people will have forgotten about this.

Posted by: A Hardwick | September 20, 2007 5:15 PM

Too many conflicting facts and not enough information to from any conclusions. I think I'll wait for some hard evidence before I jump to any conclusions. Been around DC for too long not to expect the unthinkable.

Posted by: Confused but not a fool | September 20, 2007 7:23 PM

so wrong

Posted by: johng1 is wrong | September 20, 2007 8:00 PM

Just wondering. If in a day or so we have proof that the kid stole the bike and opened fire, is the mayor going to go back and take it all back?

Posted by: Payne | September 20, 2007 9:33 PM

Of course the mayor won't take it back. If he did some lazy black people will think they are being held accountable for their actions and those fo their equally lazy, stupid kids. Let's give them all guns, pull the police out of their neighborHOODS and see what happends. They hate cops so much, let the animals fend for themselves.

Posted by: Answer to Payne | September 21, 2007 8:21 AM

In my opinion, the Mayor truly showed leadership, which is at times lacking from our elected officials, when he went to a grieving and distraught family and took onboard their frustrations and anguish and then promising them "We are going to do whatever we can to find the truth about what has happened here". For what I infer, he is also telling the distraught police officer involved that "We are going to do whatever we can to find the truth about what has happened here". By calling in the federal prosecutors and the FBI to investigate, I believe he is fulfilling his promise to both parties with actions. The question I have is, when the investigation is over will the Mayor go to the parents and say, face to face, "your son was at fault and you should be accountable" or going to the police officer and say, "you are at fault and you will be held accountable"? I hope so because no matter where the investigation heads, healing, for the young man's family and the police officer, will only begin with the truth and then accepting responsibility for any actions they may have had in this sad story.

Posted by: viewfromthecheapseats | September 21, 2007 8:54 AM

A skinny 14-year old kid (100lbs?)is assumed to be riding a mini bike, rather than sitting stationary, with his feet on the ground.

I never heard that the kid fired the gun while riding. he got off the bike and ran from the cops.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 21, 2007 10:14 AM

The person who posted this needs to understand they only know what the media is telling us. I don't care what he stole I do not think he deserved to get shot in the head. At 14 years old he had his whole life to look forward to.
"The mother wants answers? How about this: your son stole someone's property, then shot at someone. Bad luck for him he shot at a cop. If you had raised your son better, maybe he wouldn't have been the type to steal and shoot people. That's all the answer she deserves.

(Oh, and by the way, how's that gun ban working out?)"

Posted by: Anonymous | September 21, 2007 3:22 PM

I am a native Washingtonian with a large family. Several of whom are on the DC Police Dept in addition to several who have had "run-ins" with the Police Dept. for lack of a better term. I think that the Media should be a little more responsible in reporting this incident because you have the ability to help sort this situation out or turn it into an all out war. Let's be clear.... this 14 year old was not shot at by a police officer because he was suspected of stealing a bike (as you have shown Lockridge stating over and over). He was shot at by a police officer because his response to being approached by that officer was to shoot. For days after this shooting, the media continuously showed a picture of a nine year old child. THAT IS NOT THE PERSON INVOLVED IN THIS ALTERCATION! The person (mindset) involved was 14 not 9 and was no stranger to the criminal element. I can't go so far as to say he was involved in criminal activity without proof but I will say he was no stranger to it. I feel that it was terribly irresponsible of you to even use that picture, giving the public the idea that a nine year old was shot. Let's not forget that this is already a neighborhood riddled with all kinds of criminal activity.... Open air drug markets.... Homicides and more and here you are, in a position to be able to help, yet you report rumors and statements from people who were not on the scene. Then you pour salt on an open wound by giving this officers information out, endangering his family. It's as if you WANT something else bad to happen, all for the story. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves...

Posted by: Beverly | September 21, 2007 4:18 PM

Skinny 14 year old??? 100lbs????
Not in this day and age. My 13yr old is 5'10, 148 and my 14yr old is 6'1, 175. They are both taller than their dad and coaches. For all of you that think 14yr old boys still look like little kids.... I challenge you to go stand outside Ballou or Anacostia High School on any day and pick out the 9th graders.

Or maybe you were looking at that picture of a nine year old the media continuously shows as the boy that was killed.

Posted by: Angie | September 21, 2007 4:26 PM

Well stated Beverly

Posted by: nuff | September 21, 2007 9:42 PM

It was suspected that DeOnte participated in a homicide(s). He has been brought in for questioning before(s). Nobody would finger him. He did not fear the police -- he feared members of the crew from the rival neighborhood or associates of the dude(s) he had killed. He was on the edge. He knew he had a body on him. He knew people were coming for him.

Enter the police officer, who yes, acted impulsively when he suspected his minibike was stolen from his property.

He's in a Tahoe. He comes up in the neighborhood in plain clothes. He looks hostile. He's strapped. He sees DeOnte. DeOnte sees him. DeOnte says they're coming for me -- POW! -- yungin' pops off not knowing this is a police officer. Police officer responds instinctually as his instincts have taught him. He reaches, cocks back, -- POW! -- the youngster is slumped and laid out on the concrete.

Police office realizes this is a problem -- he shouldn't have gone after the bike and little did he know he would end up bucking down a youth.

That's how it happened.

Stop with all the fog and the mist.

The story of James "J-Rock" Richardson, Condon Terrace resident, murder at Ballou High in 2004 never came out. The folks in the neighborhood knew James had killed someone. Thomas Boykin didn't want to be next. A friend gave him the gun in school and James approached him. POW! -- James dead. Thomas is the example.

These are not reporters -- they are robots -- do investigative journalism. (I don't mean Marc Fisher -- Marc Fisher goes hard -- I mean the editors and other reporters.)

The defense rests.


Posted by: DreamCity 4 Life | September 22, 2007 12:07 PM

Our boy wonder is being played like an old-school fiddle that a Mississippi man of 16 or 17 brought up north with him on the old tains during the Great Migration.

Posted by: DreamCity 4 Life | September 22, 2007 12:08 PM

Is anybody listening?

God bless all children throughout the world from MLK Ave SE to the Gaza Strip to Baghdad to southern California.

Our society is toxic.

As I've poster on here before --- check out DreamCity Theatre Group.

This whole "story" or "incident" rather has already been diagnosed and analyzed by DreamCity Theatre Group's John Muller.

There is no solution other than God to come down and walk amongst us and take the evil out of all our hearts.

Cherubs turn Lucifer quick on the SOUTHSIDE.

As individuals we can live our lives and try to be safe and promote others to live save lives but sometimes our idealist optimism is shattered.

As some guy named William Shakespeare said in some play that he wrote, that one or two people have probably heard about........


Act 1, Scene 1

"'Tis gone
We do it wrong, being so majestical
To offer it the show of violence
For it as the air, invulnerable
And our vain blows malicious mockery."


PS. Where did this young man go to school? Was he in school? In his photo with a scar across the front of his face he did look like a choir boy. Are police crooked yes, are the youth (not all --- a small percentage that are socialized into the streets) more crooked, let me think for a second......

No one will ever know what happened besides the young man, the offier who shot him, and God.

Does the name Robert "Yummy" Sandifer ring any bells.

America eats it babies and there are no children here.,9171,981434,00.html

Posted by: DreamCity 4 Life | September 22, 2007 12:10 PM

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