There is a truly disturbing story out of Atlanta, Georgia. Morehouse College student Joshua Brandon Norris shot another college student Rashad Johnson three times at a party. This weekend, Norris will be allowed to graduate after receiving an unbelievable light plea bargain while Johnson is at home recovering from his wounds.
Norris was reportedly causing trouble at a Halloween party in 2007 at an Atlanta club when the club threw him out. On his way out with his girlfriend, Norris reportedly bumped into Johnson and became enraged. He appeared outside of the club in his Hummer and pulled a gun on Norris. (In addition to the Hummer, Norris co-owns a fashion store). He claims that he was acting in self-defense, but shot the unarmed Norris three times. He was charged with one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a second count for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. However, prosecutor Reid Thompson cut him a deal for a plea of no contest to a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon as a first offender — allowing him to wipe his record clean –, a $1000 fine, 240 hours of community service, and just six years probation. Thompson is quoted as saying to Arlington “We’ve got this young man who’s coming back to Morehouse now, he’s close to graduation. Sending him to state prison for two years, I don’t think that would be in the state’s best interest. Hopefully, this will be the lesson he needs.”
Fulton County Judge Marvin Arrington told Norris that he was giving him “the break of your life.” Johnson was not even notified of the hearing, let alone the deal, which mandated Norris’ return to school. At the hearing, Arrington observed that Norris “needs to have a curfew. He needs to be in a dorm where you can get some study time. Take organic chemistry and physics. Make him some A’s. . . . All of them got cars. Don’t need no dern car. They need a MARTA card.”
Arrington has been controversial in his career such as his decision in one case to order all of the white people in a courtroom to leave so he could speak with black males without whites around. In this interview, Arrington defended his decision. I can only imagine the outcry if a judge ordered all the black people to leave a courtroom. Yet, Arrington remains on the bench.
Johnson was actually saving money to transfer to Morehouse but remains at home with his mother, who also lost her husband in addition to seeing her son shot. What is astonishing is the position of Morehouse, which has refused to speak with reporters –citing privacy. Obviously, privacy rules do not bar any statement in such a public case. In this case, you have a student who admitted to shooting another college student and has a criminal record. However, Morehouse allowed him to return to classed and then graduate.
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