City Desk

The DeOnte Rawlings Files Part 6: Haskel’s Neighbors Do The Right Thing

Maybe you are sick of hearing about the DeOnte Rawlings case. The 14-year-old was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer on September 17, 2007. That's a long time ago. By now, the off-duty cops have been cleared by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the D.C. Police Department. Law enforcement contends that Rawlings had fired on the officers—James Haskel and Anthony Clay—first and was riding Haskel's stolen minibike. Officer Haskel only returned fire in self defense.

In this series, City Desk has set out to chronicle the case's oddities and various headscratchers. You can read part one here, part two here, part three here, part four here, and part five here. In this latest installment, we find a very curious detail—one that complicates Haskel's decision to go out looking for his mini bike.

On September 17, 2007, Haskel didn't just leave a wife and young child behind to go looking for his mini bike. He left a fellow D.C. cop.

Haskel wasn't home when his mini bike was stolen from his garage. Neighbors noticed the theft and did the responsible thing—they called the police. By the time Haskel came home, there was a police officer waiting for him. The cop told him that other cops–from the 7th District–would be responding to his home.

Haskel did not wait for his fellow D.C. Police officers to arrive. Nor did he bother notifying them that he was going to go out on his own and search for his missing mini bike. Here is Haskel's related deposition testimony with Rawlings' family attorney Gregory Lattimer:

Haskel: The neighbors were all out. There was an officer there.…The neighbors called about the burglary and 7D dispatched it. He heard the run dispatch and he responded…

Lattimer: You didn’t take down his name?

Haskel: No.

Lattimer: Why?

Haskel: Didn’t feel the need to.

Lattimer: I thought he was investigating the burglary?

Haskel: I said he responded.

Lattimer: OK, so what was he just doing, just standing around?

Haskel: Yes, basically when I got there, he was sitting in his cruiser.

Lattimer: So he just came there and just sit and looked around?

Haskel: If you want to know exactly what he done, you may have to get him here and ask him some questions…

Lattimer: So when you got there, did you have any communication with 7D?

Haskel: No.

Lattimer: Why?

Haskel: He told me that 7D had the call and would respond and was coming out to the call.

Lattimer: So he told you that 7D was coming out to the call.

Haskel: Right.

Lattimer: Did you wait for them to get there?

Haskel: No.

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  • Grumpy

    Sounds like an angry (rightful so) homeowner who was doubly pissed that they had the nerve to break into 'the police' house. Not saying he was justified in killing the kid. Just saying folks are sick of other folks stealing, damaging what they work hard for and disrespecting them. Had it been me @ 14 riding a stolen minibike, my parents would have set that ass on fire; I'd have gotten the asswhuppin of a lifetime long before he'd a come looking for the minibike. My Peoples would have made me walk that shit back to his house, then whupped my ass again in front of him.Then my pissed off Pops would have had to replace the lock or window damage and probably whupped my ass again just because. Friend wouldn't have seen me til school started back up in the fall...

  • Truth Hurts

    Grumpy: i agree with almost everything you say. I would've had the ass whuppin, etc, too, and I would've been embarrassed and disciplined (probably punched until I bled) had my Dad caught me. Had my Dad not caught me, and had I been killed by the minibike's owner (cop or not), however, I know my Dad wouldn't stand for the bs put out by the mpd. He would demand the truth, i know he would. That's the larger issue here. When taxpayer financed homicides occur, do we have a moral/ethical/societal interest in the facts? And let's not blame the parents or their lawyers for probing these things.

  • Q

    Agree with both of you. In terms of a story though, is there any new info? Lattimer's deposition was already in the FULL story.

  • Grumpy

    Oh, I'm all for the truth coming out and justice being done. The punishment to kill this kid didn't fit the crime, so I'm not advocating that at all. I just know that more and more, people are sick of it all and you will see more of this brand of vigilante justice as time goes on.

    I think folks that deal in the criminal justice system would be more prone to act out like this anyway because they are party to the worst of society on a daily basis. Afterwhile, it must dull your senses somewhat. Meanwhile, taxpayers are increasingly frustrated at the blatant disrespect and threat to life, limb and property that we face on a regular. I think it will get worse before it gets better.

  • Sean

    Yeah I can understand what Grumpy said about people being fed up about the stuff they worked hard for stolen. But if I remember reading right... this bike was over 20 years old which means Haskel might have had it since he was a teenager or something. It's not like it was an expensive toy or something. It probably only cost a few hundred dollars way back then. PLUS, when his friend told him he got the bike BACK, he didn't even want it! It's so stupid that this happened over something so inconsequential as an old scooter. A grown man killed a child over what was more of a children's "toy" than something an adult would use.
    Between this, the EMT scores, the demoted fire fighters, and the petty bs over the Nats tickets, I don't see how I could vote for Fenty again. Just as Pres. Obama said the buck stops with him in regard to problems in his administration. The buck stops with Fenty on all this stuff. Even if he wasn't aware of this stuff, once he became aware and did nothing about it, then he became responsible.

  • Grumpy

    But I don't lay the blame on Fenty on this one; it's a systemic problem since the days of Ike Fulwood and 'Mayor-4-Life'. Barry allowed it, Pratt Kelly-Dixon couldn't change it, no amount of swapping Chiefs has made any difference because it's an ingrained culture

    In theory, we all have our ideas on how to change/fix; implementation is quite another thing. It's akin to having a termite infested house that you can't knock down or set on fire so you spray enough to keep them at bay til they flare up again. We all have seen changes in certain areas and running parallel are those things that do not change or the changes are so minor you hardly notice.

    I don't know if any Mayor could make the necessary changes to fix this government. They can't even get Statehood or actual representation...a shadow senator, what the fuck is THAT? Sounds like a bad premise to a slasher flick.

    But hell, we got Geechi Jack running our county into the ground, so we got our problems too...

  • Q

    Grumpy, you are sounding like your other dwarf brother, DOPEY. No this ain't Fenty's fault. However, Haskel and Clay should be kept from any Police duties involving carrying or using a firearm. Of ALL people, they should've known the extent of following Police procedures. With one of them working at the Police Academy, what type of example is this setting? Had Rawlings lived, their behavior could've had the whole case thrown out. They both should've been charged and rightfully disciplined for this gross misconduct and convenient abnesia.

    Self-defense is a slippery slope. If Haskel was really concerned about retrieving the bike, he should've picked it up after the "suspect" dropped it and ran. If Haskell shot at the truck, yes he opened the door for lethal force. However, to chase the guy down AND NOT IDENTIFY YOURSELF as Police is improper.

    Coincidently, MPDC (or should I say the FOP DC) never had respect for Chief Ike Fullwood up to Chief Ramsey, so to even blame them wholly is improper as well.

  • Grumpy

    Q, you either can't read or just want to have something greasy to say. Perhaps you should go back and read what I said and THINK about it before typing. You'll see that you made similiar points to mine; That would make YOU the dwarf brother

    you wear the name well...

  • Q

    Grumpy, the difference between the comments is that unlike your insults to Barry, Fullwood, Barack Obama, etc., their is responsibility on both sides, Police and Citizen to make this work. Not that Police are perfect, but they are certainly going to be held to the standards of their occupations. We are often told as citizens, "Don't take the LAW in your own hands." Yet, Police officers are citizens too. In that, when not duty-bound to respond to an incident, they SHOULD/MUST expect that those who are duty-bound will do their jobs. What Haskell did may be what a vigilante citizen would do, but it is NOT acceptable as a Police officer.

    We don't know if Rawlings was the suspect who stole the minibike or fired on the officer. We do know that he was the intended target from Haskel's gun. Lethal force doesn't equate to determent from crime.

    So in all the a**whuppins we got as kids, the real deterrent was not mamma or daddy's belt. It was the premise of getting caught and realizing that our actions were not the right thing to do!

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