75-year-old John Henry Spooner from Milwaukee, WI, appointed himself judge, jury and executioner when he gunned down a 13-year-old boy whose only crime appeared to be…his appearance. The victim, Darius Simmons, was black, unarmed and brutally shot in front of his now grief-stricken mother.
At issue was a gun collection, which had been, according to Spooner, stolen. Simmons lived next door. Spooner confronted Darius, who was in sixth grade, and his mother, Patricia Larry, when the boy was moving a garbage can in the front yard. Darius denied involvement in the theft. In fact, he was in school at the time of the robbery, but that answer was unsatisfactory to Spooner, who proceeded to point his 9mm handgun at Darius.
From Global Grind:
Frightened by the sight of a gun being pointed at him only five feet away from his chest, Darius raised his hand in surrender as Spooner fired one shot into his torso. Scared, wounded and confused, Darius took off running as Spooner aimed and fired another shot, striking Darius in the back.
After speaking with the family, Community Activist, David Muhammad, said that police questioned Darius’ mother for two hours while leaving his body on the sidewalk. Even after Darius was taken to the hospital, his mother was held in the police car. He was pronounced dead before she could get to him. Then police searched Darius’ home and found nothing. Instead, they arrested his older brother for having truancy tickets. Police have stated that the lengthy questioning was necessary in leading to an arrest.
Spooner’s family, however, was allowed to return to Spooner’s home (also a crime scene) and retrieve personal items.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Spooner was upset that his neighborhood had turned from a majority Caucasian neighborhood to a mixed-race neighborhood. Darius and his family had recently moved next door to Spooner.
Darius regularly attended church and worked in the church’s community garden. His pastor, Steve Jerbi, described him as, ”The kind of kid who, one quick look from the pastor, he’d quiet down.”
One witness is Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan, who allegedly had breakfast with Spooner just an hour before the shooting. Spooner complained to Donovan about the police’s reluctance to arrest Simmons and said that there were other ways of dealing with these problems, a conversation that would indicate premeditation.
Wisconsin does have both Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine laws on the books, although it probably be even more difficult for Spooner to make the case that he was under any sort of threat than it will be for George Zimmerman, the killer of Trayvon Martin.
Here’s the video:
Donations can be made to the Simmons Family at Tri-City National Bank in the name of Darius Simmons.
Simmons is the 16th African-American to be gunned down since the shooting of Trayvon Martin in February.