Relative of slain 14-year-old calls for FBI to investigate Lawrence shooting as a federal hate crime
A relative of a 14-year-old Black boy who was allegedly killed by a 17-year-old white boy in Lawrence is calling for the FBI to investigate and for the case to be tried as a federal hate crime.
Michael Berry, a cousin of the late Kamarjay Shaw, has addressed a letter to the U.S. attorney for the District of Kansas, Kate E. Brubacher, requesting that Derrick Del Reed, now 18 and facing a first-degree murder charge in Douglas County District Court, be investigated and tried under a federal statute that defines the perpetrator of a hate crime as someone who willfully causes bodily injury to any person because of race, color, religion or national origin. Berry argues that Reed, if convicted, should be imprisoned for life as a result of Shaw’s death.
In support of his argument, Berry details in his letter how Reed prior to Shaw’s shooting death on March 18 in the 1300 block of Maple Lane announced his intent to “kill (N-word)” and used the racial slur numerous times.
As the Journal-World reported, Detective Kimberlee Nicholson has testified about Snapchat messages that Reed allegedly sent the morning of the shooting. The messages were exchanged with a witness who, according to prosecutors, has refused to appear in court to testify. The court has issued a material witness warrant for that person to appear.
In those messages, Reed, whose handle includes the word “whiteboy,” repeatedly uses the N-word and says that he is saving to buy a gun, and in a later message he says he is tired of fighting with Shaw and his friends and is ready to start shooting.
“I’m gonna let them try some funny (expletive) … Them (N-word) are dead fr(for real)” and “I see a whole lotta dead (N-word),” the Snapchat messages — read by Nicholson from a projection screen — said.
Berry’s letter says he is writing on behalf of Shaw’s family. Berry identifies himself as having a law degree and being with the KC Civil Action Committee, a nonprofit in Lawrence.
Berry also claims in the letter that Reed had an accomplice who lured Shaw and others into Reed’s orbit that day so that he could execute his plan. Berry is calling for this person to also be charged and for whoever supplied Reed, then a juvenile, with a handgun to be charged.
“I believe this is a clear cut violation of 18 U.S. Code § 249 (the federal hate crime statute),” Berry wrote in the letter, and Reed “through the use of a firearm, killed Kamarjay Shaw in cold blood, having set up an ambush. He should be facing life in federal prison.”
Reed initially argued that he should be immune from prosecution based on Kansas’ “stand your ground” law, but Judge Sally Pokorny rejected that argument, along with the argument that he should be tried as a juvenile.
Among her reasons for ordering adult status, Pokorny noted the serious and violent nature of Shaw’s death by a firearm; evidence that Reed fired into a group of retreating juveniles — behavior that she cited as “aggressive, violent and willful conduct”; evidence that Reed taunted other juveniles to come onto his property; the fact that he was living not with his parents but in a “roommate situation” with his sister and that he had some employment; and the fact that Reed was closer to 18 than 17 when he shot Shaw.
Reed’s trial is set for Nov. 27. He is currently being held at the Douglas County Jail on a $500,000 bond.