News If Prosecutors Had Their Way, Teen Shot At Garfield High School Would’ve Been in Jail
posted by November 4 at 8:00 AMon
If King County Prosecutors had gotten the sentence they’d asked for when they filed burglary, possession of stolen property and vehicle prowls charges against 15-year-old Quincy Coleman, he would’ve been in jail instead out on the street in front of Garfield High School where Coleman was shot and killed on Friday.
Last September, Court records say prosecutors, along with Coleman’s probation counselor, recommended a 52-65 week sentence for the charges, which included a February 2008 break in at a Capitol Hill home.
Instead, Judge Carol Schapira gave Coleman one year of supervision, 400 hours of community service, mandatory counseling and a 4:30pm curfew.
Court records show Coleman had been in trouble before for multiple trespassing, burglary and drug charges and his Myspace page features a photo of Coleman cradling a handgun, along with pictures of stacks of cash, drugs and a pit bull and references to the Bloods street gang. Coleman’s death is being investigated by SPD’s gang unit.
With such a long rap sheet, it’s unclear why Coleman was out on the street instead of in juvenile detention receiving treatment.
The city has been making moves—such as Mayor Greg Nickels’ Youth Violence Prevention Initiative—to crack down on and prevent any further surge in what council member Tim Burgess describes as “a serious gang crisis.”
“We need to acknowledge—publicly, out loud—that we have a serious gang crisis in our city,” Burgess wrote on his blog yesterday. “There are likely fewer than 100 individuals in Seattle responsible for the vast majority of the youth violence we are experiencing. We need to identify and target these individuals for proactive policing and aggressive prosecution.”
Coleman’s record doesn’t link him to any violent crimes, but he’s just one of several kids—like Pierre LaPoint—who’ve been spit out of the juvenile court system in the last year who end up right back in danger or in trouble.
Clearly the city has its work cut out for it if it intends to crack down and prevent youth crime. A large part of that might be coordinating with the already overburdened juvenile court system to find out why kids are getting back out on the street before they’re ready or before it safe.