A rich, white high school student from California, who has been charged with murder, was allowed to return to his classes just one month after the incident.
Meet Cameron Terrell, the poster child for "affluenza," aka white privilege.
Terrell, 18, was arrested last month along with two teenagers in connection with an Oct. 1 shooting in South Los Angeles that killed a 21-year-old black man, Justin Holmes.
Holmes was walking home with two of his friends when they were accosted by two men who asked where they came from. One of the armed men fired multiple shots that hit Holmes, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The shooter and his accomplice then ran to a black car — that was reportedly being driven by Terrell — which quickly drove away. Holmes later died in a hospital. Neither he nor his two friends were linked to gang activity.
Terrell was arrested on Oct. 12 on charges of one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder; gang allegations were filed against all three suspects. The other two juveniles have not been identified but their cases are being transferred to an adult court.
Prosecutors asked that Terrell’s bail be set at more than $5 million — which was not a problem for his rich family. On Oct. 19, the bail was posted and despite the severity of his alleged crimes, Terrell was not only allowed to leave jail but attend classes at Palos Verde High School as well.
The suspect’s father is Donald Wayne Terrell, the president of New & Improved Media, a media consulting firm in El Segundo. His mother, Debra, is an interior design and works prominently for clients in the South Bay. The Terrells live in a 3,871-square-foot house with an estimated value of $1.8 million, according to the Daily Breeze. Terrell himself enjoys Mexican getaway vacations and got out of prison just in time to attend a World Series game with his parents at Dodger Stadium. So, apparently, getting charged with murder does not seem to upset Terrell’s high life.
Officials at Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District confirmed to KTLA that Terrell attended the high school as recently as last week. As is sane, parents whose children attend Palos Verdes high school were enraged that a student charged with murder is allowed inside a school with 3,000 students.
“I do believe, and I’d like to talk to the principal, that the education code does support his suspension so that he can focus on his studies at home,” former Manhattan Beach police Chief Rod Uyeda said.
"They shoot up funerals. They shoot up schools. They shoot up people’s homes. They really don’t care who they hit,” he said, fearing gang retaliation.
A group of parents also sent a letter to the school board demanding Terrell take his classes somewhere else.
“While Terrell does enjoy the presumption of innocence in a court of law, there are serious safety concerns raised by Terrell’s continued attendance at school. At best, Terrell is a distraction to teachers, staff and other students,” the letter read. “At worst, most law enforcement officers would say that allowing an 18-year-old gang member suspected of a felony to attend a high school presents a clear and present danger to other students.”
After much pressure, the school has finally said Terrell will no longer be allowed to attend classes on campus but will go to an off-site study program.
Meanwhile, the identity of Terrell’s companions who were involved in the shooting remains unknown. However, the criminal complaint stated Terrell went by “White Boy” and the other two were called “B.G.” and “L.G.” While Terrell walks free for the time being at least, his accomplices’ cases are being transferred to an adult court.
Terrell’s case highlights the huge disparity in the criminal justice system that allows money to rule over the severe allegations. While Terrell walks, less privileged people are left to rot in jail for minor transgressions like stealing $5 worth of food, because they cannot afford bail.
Posting bail also means that Terrell will have many advantages in fighting the case that others who remain incarcerated will not have.
“It will be easier to meet with his attorney. He'll be able to show up in court in his own clothing. He'll be able to walk through the front door with jurors. His preparation will be less pressured. He'll be able to get a good night's sleep before court,” said attorney John Raphling, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, who has been campaigning for bail reform in California.
It also speaks volume that Terrell, charged with murder and attempted murder, was given bail in the first place, while black and Latino in his position are often not given the benefit of the doubt.
“Money bail has no link to public safety,” according to the report. “In fact, bail is unnecessarily risky: defendants with financial resources can purchase release even if there is a high risk that they will engage in pretrial misconduct.’”
Banner/Thumbnail credit: REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi