2×03 “When You Put God on Trial”
Written by: Chris Coleman and Kelly Zollo
Warning: Episode contains strong language
Sam Cooke- A Change Gonna Come
Walking into this courtroom was almost a blur. After the flashes of camera lights blinding them they made it into the Atlas Falls Courthouse. It was beautiful that today would be the final day he had to defend his legacy against Kendrick. Looking over at Mason and Braden he felt his stomach knot up. Dinah Watkins was Kendrick mother and the way the woman looked at him. The things she said in interviews well let’s just say Dinah better not be caught in a dark alley with is mother or sister. June Harrison could handle herself with a rolling pin she beat off rioters. His mother was a tough lady and he was grateful his family were all here. Hell his brothers in blue were sitting there supporting him. It didn’t matter if they were black or white they were here. That made him feel good because honestly he wasn’t sure if people truly believed how innocent he was. Kendrick didn’t put down his weapon and he did shoot to kill. He had to or else Kendrick wouldn’t have stopped. Some call this suicide by police but he saw it as a coward who couldn’t face all the people he was going to disappoint. If Yasmine honestly told the truth on the stand today then they’d see him for what he was. He knew Dani was going to tell her truth and that’s all he asked for. He asked for them to speak their truth because everyone in the town knew he wasn’t a killer.
Sitting down he didn’t see Elliot Duval the man was a showboat lawyer if ever seen one. He’d gotten two African-American NFL players off with slaps on the wrist for a drunk driving accident. He was a celebrity lawyer until a rapper name Lil Hitta was brutally beaten by the police while nobody knew he was a celebrity. That was when Elliot Duval persecuted and destroyed a entire county in California for there racist behavior. After that Elliot slowly drifted out of the mainstream media minds and started to take on cases that affected African-American culture. He was one of the first attorney’s to sue a police station and win after an unarmed black kid was killed by an officer. This made him known throughout the African-American community and he was becoming something of a new Johnnie Cochran. He also was a flagrant media whore and no matter what he said this was because of the riots. If nobody rioted in this city then Elliot wouldn’t be here.
“I hate to ask this but if they don’t show up and by some stroke of God they’re not here is it over? Does she somehow lose the case. I know I’m a cop but civil suits aren’t my thing you know that. I just want this over and everyone to leave me and Cassie alone. We’ve moved out of my house because they found me Mason. I’m not a bad guy and we both know that. Why is this still happening for something that happened months ago. It’s over he’s been proven at fault and my shot was clean. Isn’t that enough to stop this?”
Mason had made his way inside the courtroom with Jon making sure his response was the same as it always was to the media no comment. Jon had been cleared of any wrong doing in the shooting of Kendrick at both a Federal and State level but that would never stop lawyers like Elliot Duvall in his mind from going after Jon for money for Kendrick’s mother. He supposed that was one of the differences in their take on clients. He always interviewed them making sure he was taking on the clients that he felt needed the most help. Jon’s trial was one of those things he knew of badly it could all be taken out of context and one of the reason he had Braden consult with him on it to prepare just in case it went to a criminal one. He’d never done a criminal trial luckily they had avoided that and a civil trial was what was left. As DA Braden wasn’t allowed to act as Jon’s lawyer and he looked back at him sitting in the row behind them and then around the courtroom Elliot wasn’t here yet.
“Technically if he doesn’t show the judge can dismiss the case. They would then have to refile another motion for another preliminary hearing and we’d continue on. This will be over today Jon I swear it you everyone will publically know what happened that day.” Mason said looking at the bailiff enter with still no sign of Elliot or Dinah he almost bragged a sign of relief only for him to see them enter the courtroom a circus of reporters following them watching them both speaking to the press without a care in the world. He turned to Jon and looked at him. “Remain calm you outburst it looks bad it paints the picture they’ve been wanting. It’s up to the judge if this goes any further today or if she awards them anything.”
He broke from Jon only for a second as he watched Braden look at him knowing what he was thinking. Keep it cool and civil if only for the sake of the press and the man he was defending. Holding out his hand to Elliot he spoke. “Glad you could make it hopefully Judge Adani makes the best decision she can today. Good luck.”
Elliot looked at Mason hand and laughed. It was clear that this rookie thought that they were friends or even on the same level. “You know your sister always intrigued me, you think you can hook that up when I’m done mopping the floor with you? It makes me sick brothers like you out here pretending to be here for the cause and Jon Harrison’s a killer. A trigger happy army boy who could have shot Kendrick in the shoulder just as easily as he popped him in the head. You lucky I didn’t bring Merci on the stand. I’m about to show you what being a lawyer is about. When I win this case Mason we will shake hands and I’ll be owning that white boy. That’s my luck.” Elliot said as he walked over to Dinah.
“Ms. Watkins do you have some tissues or napkins. Today you are going to hear the ugliest things about your boy. You know who Kendrick was to a entire generation of people. He paid bills, he loved his family, and protected. Listen to me when I tell you this, you don’t injust any of that. Today we are going to get justice.” He leaned in and hugged her making sure the cameras from the Atlas Falls Chronicle saw him. Elliot was all about the African American community growing but they couldn’t it when police officers shooting them. Just growing up black it’s a shame that they have to have that talk. The talk that you show these motherfuckers respect or they’ll kill them. Place your hands on a steering wheel, answer respectfully, don’t make any certain moves, and most of all don’t get killed. This was a rare case yes Kendrick was a criminal but did he deserve to be popped like that.
Jon watched Elliot walk away without seeing him shaking Mason hand. He saw the expression on his lawyer and friend face. It was shocking to see him mad, Mason always kept a cool expression. “Whatever he said don’t listen to it Mason you’re going to do great.”
The arrogance that Elliot showed honestly pissed him off he was a media whore attorney who cared only about that which was just sad in his opinion. Using Dinah Watkins to get his name out there was bad enough but letting the press feed on her and Jon’s grief was deplorable. He looked over at Jon as he made his way back to his side of the courtroom and placed his hand on his back nodding his head. The statement was there but he knew they were going to make the better case for the judge. He saw the bailiff walk out and the media circus calm down.
“The honorable Judge Roya Adani, please be seated.” The man announced.
Mason took a seat as she came out and watched Elliot and Dinah do the same the courtroom got quiet and it felt like he was in a peanut gallery. All eyes would be on him from here on out, his practice would depend on the outcome. He won people would say he would take on any case and win and be a good attorney that could make that happen. If he lost then he would be even more shunned in his own community than he already was. He was broken out of his thoughts as the judge began to speak.
“Mr. Delacroix are you ready to proceed in the civil trial of Jonathan Harrison versus Dinah Watkins for the death of her son Kendrick Watkins?” She asked looking at them both.
Mason stood and nodded his head. “We are your Honor.”
“Are you ready to proceed Mr. Duval?” She asked waiting for the other man to say the same and she would officially open the trial.
“I wouldn’t want anything more Judge Adani.” Elliot said looking at Mason with his eyes cutting at Jon. “I would like to call my first witness, Yasmine Kohl.”
“Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God; under pains and penalties of perjury.” The bailiff asked as he held out a bible.
Yasmine took a deep breath scanning the crowd. It was so many faces surrounding the shooting. She saw Jamal, Rory, and Brooke all sitting together privileged as ever. Ms. Watkins pleading eyes almost broke her down and her baby Khalil was holding her hand. Then there was so many others that were involved but one person stood out. Raven her chocolate skin stood out and she knew that she was here for Ronan. Placing her hand on the bible. “I do.” Yasmine sat down and all the feelings inside of her started to bubble up. Never had she felt her stomach curling so many people wanted so many different things from her. The Watkins wanted her to vouch for Kendrick, Dani told her just to tell the truth, and her momma well she’d been so concerned that this was going to drag her down.
“How are you today Ms. Kohl?” Elliot asked as he walked up to Yasmine.
“I’m nervous, that’s the first time I said that out loud. It’s scary right now reliving all that. I’m trying to put that in the past you know.” Yasmine said softly looking around.
“After this you will be able to, tell me about your relationship with Mr. Kendrick Watkins.”
“Yes, I can. Kendrick was my sisters first love. Gina and Kendrick were known as Scottswood most beautiful couple. My sister loved Kendrick and he took care of me, my mom, and my sister. He provided for two families when my mother was on drugs very badly. She was a junkie and um it destroyed her and the woman she was. My mother was a prostitute and everything in my life has been a fight. From my birth until now. Kendrick made easier because for once I wasn’t just the cute girl, I was the cute girl in Jordan’s. I was the cute girl who didn’t smell or have dingy clothes. Kendrick provided for me an Ms. Watkins family.” Yasmine said looking at her.
“Yasmine you are a ex-exotic dancer correct? What was Kendrick’s reaction to your choice? Did he condone you being a stripper and a drug dealer?” Elliot asked as softly as he could. Another beautiful woman lost in the system of the streets. He was glad she bounced back.
“Kendrick didn’t know I went under a assumed name. I made sure that he didn’t know because I knew he would flip out. I was like a little sister to him. Not only that I dated his little brother and everyone called us little Gina and little Kendrick. My mother relapsed badly and this time I thought.” She lowered her head as she bit her lip. Tears falling down her face. “I thought I would be alone and have no one. I don’t know my father and from what I heard he was just a john. I had no one else so I went to that pole and got sucked up into everything. Drugs, and stripping when I had a full ride scholarship to Julliard. I was trying to fight for my momma and Kendrick understood but he hated it. He hated seeing me up there.” Yasmine wiped her face as bailiff handed her a tissue.
“And how many times did he try to get you out?” Elliot asked looking at the judge directly.
“So many damn times.” She said looking up at Khalil and Ms. Watkins. “Yet when I was ready he did stop me. I was a top seller and the best dancer. I kept rolling through Club XES and I never asked questions. I did as I was told until I fell in love. He was mad all the time. He wanted so badly for me stay in the hood and Club XES. I didn’t know what to do but turn my back on Kendrick and that lifestyle. The man who I fell in love with wanted me free. He was really good to me and I just had to be free. Of selling drugs or being a stripper and free to be with man I love. I mean loved.” Yasmine paused as her eyes locked in with Rory’s. “Because I just wanted to dance and be normal. I wanted to get out and he didn’t want me to leave because he thought because my boyfriend was rich that he’d play me. He’d just use me until he was bored, I guess was right about that.” She looked directly at Rory. “But he snapped and he wasn’t himself anymore. Before I knew it I was on a floor at Club XES about be raped by one of his goons. Kendrick is a very complex man but he killed that man for me. He shot and saw what he was doing was wrong. He just got all mixed up in the wrong things. The difference between a police officer and gang leader isn’t much. One was pushed to be better and other was pushed from circumstances. Kendrick wasn’t that bad but he hurt me at the end. He threatened to kill me.” Her voice cracked as she turned the back of her hand on her mouth. Trying not to breakdown completely on stand.
“But if Kendrick was alive today would you Ms. Kohl forgive him?” Elliot asked as he handed her another tissue.
“I would.” Yasmine said nodding. “I would forgive him because sometimes we get into things and there’s no way out.” Running her hands through her hair she cleared her throat.
“No further questions for the witness.” Elliot said smile. “Your move rookie.” He whispered as he passed Mason.
Mason looked at Elliot and then at Yasmine on the stand her testimony doing what Elliot wanted making Kendrick seem sympathetic. He looked down at his notes and new what he had to do make her flip her own narrative. Standing up he buttoned his suit jacket as he made his way to the stand where she sat. Braden had warned him this would be the tough part being aggressive with Yasmine but he knew it had to be done emotions were what would win them the case that and the truth. He turned to the judge before looking at Yasmine.
“You said Kendrick tried to get you out yet your saying his power wouldn’t reach that far? How is that possible that a leader of a gang and the Madden organization didn’t have the power to get you out of the situation. Someone he considered his own sister at that?” Mason said looking st the glare from Elliot he was not a rookie and had seen court long enough. He saw a nod from Braden before he turned back to Yasmine. “You mention he had lost his way how so?”
Yasmine gulped a little wondering how to answer this without disrespecting her boyfriend and Kendrick legacy. She then looked over at Dani and knew she had to tell the truth. “He had the power but who would respect him after he let me go? I mean the streets talk and him showing favoritism wouldn’t be a good look for anyone. His boys would think he went soft and then people would challenge him. Power corrupts absolutely and he was um not the same. Somehow he was running everything and I don’t really know how he thought that was smart. To answer your question about how he lost his way, Kendrick was trying to be Scarface or the Godfather instead of being Kendrick. He helped the community but he wasn’t the same anymore. Life had beaten the goodness out of him. The drug game and being a gang leader had transformed him into someone hungry for power. He scared me and what happened in Club XES to me. When I was almost raped that wasn’t Kendrick. I begged and pleaded to him trying my hardest to appeal to man who I saw as a big brother. That guy almost took my body and I tried so hard to fight him off but he was so strong. If Kendrick didn’t kill him then um.” She paused thinking about her almost rape. “Then I wouldn’t have thought he had a heart.” Yasmine never said a word about Ronan she ignored it like a pro focusing all in on the fact Scottswood boys were Kendrick’s not that mob shit.
“So running drugs for the Madden organization through his gang changed him. Yet in all that he still couldn’t find it in him to let the girl he thought of as a sister go. Some brother.” Mason said waving his hand at her and looking at the judge for a cautionary look which he got but the statement needed to be said. Walking back to his desk he grabbed the photos of her bruised body form the attack at the club and walked them back to her on the stand after showing them to the judge too.
“So he’d let men do that to you? In fact he ordered it didn’t he? That beat down that they gave you when it nearly turned into a rape. He continued to let you sell your body on a pole and run drugs for him and we’re all supposed to believe he was some swell guy?” Mason paused seeing her tear up at the photos and he let the silence sit in the courtroom for a bit. He glanced back at Braden knowing he’d pushed what he needed. “Tell me why did he grab Dani Fraiser over you in the back seat?”
“Kendrick didn’t um. He was um. I think it was because of our history okay? Our fucking history I don’t want to do this anymore. Get me off of this stand because this shit is ridiculous. I’m not a fucking stripper anymore and the fact that everyone is treating like this.” Yasmine felt low and like everyone in that damn courtroom was turning there nose up at her.
“Young lady enough. You won’t talk like that in my courtroom. I sympathize with you but you need to answer the question. Please refrain from using vulgar language.” Judge Adani spoke and shot her a look. “Or I’ll put you in a cell to make you refrain from using that language in here.”
Yasmine lowered her head taking a deep breath as she looked at Mason. Shaking her head at him. “He um grabbed Dani because she was white. Just because she was a white girl who had it all. We never got the privilege that she would and he um wanted to wash his soul I feel like. He had just saw a girl he raised almost be raped and he ordered the beaten but never the rape. I was so hurt that he let it happen. I could never look at him as big brother again because he.” She almost cursed as she caught herself. “He let man violate me in a way I’d never thought. He betrayed me just like I did him. I let him down by choosing my boyfriend over him. I was being punished for letting go of Scottswood. I was being punished for wanting more than just being a stripper and a drug dealer. So he snatched Dani as a way to I don’t know make him forgive him for what he did.” Yasmine sniffled seeing the hurt faces of Khalil and Ms. Watkins.
“No your not a stripper anymore Yasmine you got out when the Atlas Falls police department and Jon Harrison made sure you were rescued and safe.” Mason said looking at her and handing her a tissue he looked over at Eliot and Ms Watkins. “The saddest thing for all the talk of race and being racist I can guarantee you had he of grabbed you instead of the white girl Jon wouldn’t of hesitated to do the same thing with the same outcome. No more questions your honor.”
“You may leave the stand Ms. Kohl and thank-you very much.” Judge Adani said as she watched the girl walk out of the courtroom in tears. She wrung her hands as she watched Elliot fuming. She already knew it was going to be ugly from here on out.
“Ms. Fraiser, tell me you were abducted from your home by Mr. Watkins. That’s something we can’t argue. I do have to ask you though why were you kidnapped? How did the drugs end up in your home? I mean you aren’t a drug user at all correct?” Elliot said knowing he was about to decimate Dani as a witness. Folding his arms he grew silent. Pacing back and forth he looked at Jackson sitting attentively. Elliot walked to table and picked up a black duffle bag. “Does this bag look familiar?” Unzipping it he showed him a bag full of cocaine and crystal meth. “Tell me Dani how did this get into your home?”
Dani had prepared for this for months with prepping from her brother and Mason and she looked at Elliot and then at Jackson. It was Jackson’s duffle she knew what she had to do tell the truth. “Yes I recognize the bag it belongs to Jackson Devonshire. We lived together at the time of the kidnapping we still do. He’d come over the night before I had no idea the duffle was inside my garage hidden inside my ice chest. Kendrick wanted the drugs back he came to my house looking for them.” She paused looking at Elliot and then over at Mason and Braden not sure what else she was supposed to say to the question. “He broke into my home looking for the drugs.”
“You didn’t answer one of my questions Ms. Fraiser. I asked you do you do drugs?” Elliot said looking at her directly in the eyes.
“No I’ve never touched drugs in my entire life I’ve seen first hand what they do to people and families.” Dani said looking at him dead in the eyes and she couldn’t help herself. “Plus I’m pregnant I would never do that especially now.”
Elliot smiled at Dani nodding his head. “Judge Adani please this is exhibit two along with exhibit one which is the duffle bag. This is a picture taken just a year and four months ago. Isn’t it funny how Facebook tells us about our memories. Dani who is that with Kendrick Watkins.” It was a night at Club XES but he found the picture on Jackson’s old Facebook. “Please tell me who is that man along with Mr. Watkins throwing up the Scottswood Bois sign also correct?”
Dani wrung her hands looking at Jackson and back over at Mason and her brother he wasn’t on trial here and it was pissing her off to no end about the play Elliot was doing. Kendrick was the one they were here to discuss not Jackson, Kendrick’s actions that day not Jackson’s. “It’s Jackson Devonshire. I don’t really see what that has to do with me though. Like I’ve said I’ve never touched drugs ever.”
“Right but how are we to know that your dope fiend fiance didn’t give him a key to get in. The police report says he was just there. Those are your words right? So how are we to know he just broke in?” Letting Judge Adani feel his passion. “Dani is it true that Jon Harrison confessed his love for you almost a year ago?”
She clenched her fist glaring at the man before her and then looked over at Jon. “Jackson would have never given that psychopath a key to my house ever. Yes I had no idea how Jon felt at the time. I let him know I was happily with someone else. Our families are close friends, I’ve known Jon since I was born. He’s the godfather to my nephew. His sister and I are best friends.” She said yes she cared about Jon and Jon cared about her but did he honestly think that was the reason Jon shot Kendrick to win her back? “We’re good friends even now he moved on. He’s a good person…”
“A good person who was trained by our great government and didn’t shoot someone in a nonlethal spot. You say that he’s a godfather to your nephew, your families are linked up, and you told him that he wasn’t the one. Damn if I was man who loved a girl forever and she was kidnapped by someone like Kendrick a dangerous criminal. I wouldn’t want to engage in a gunfight I mean would any of you? It’s a little crazy don’t you think? Speaking of crazy how many times did you visit him in the VA?” Elliot asked as he looking at Jon. “Dani can you tell us why was Jon in the VA?”
“I’d rather have Jon watching my back than you.” She said under her breath catching a look from the judge before glaring back at Elliot. She was livid and trying to reign that in and she placed her hands on the side of the stand gripping the edge as she spoke into the microphone. “Go to hell. Jon wasn’t the one that broke into my house and kidnapped me. Jon had problems after he came back from the war I went to visit him numerous times like any concerned friend would. Maybe if your poster boy would have got some counseling too he wouldn’t be dead right now.”
“Wow, and there it is everyone that’s why Jon shot and killed Kendrick. It had nothing to do with he was criminal it had to do with the fact that this man killed a kid in Iraq. This man who everyone is putting on a pedestal. He shot and killed a kid everyone and Dani plus everyone you hear will cover and protect him under the guise he’s one of our heroes. Yet I seem to have medical records. Judge Adani exhibit three, this is Jon Harrison’s medical records now all of you in this court. You tell me that you want a police detective who has PTSD to actually protect you? No Kendrick wasn’t a poster boy for anything Ms. Fraiser he was a criminal and we aren’t ignoring that at all. Like all of you and your delusions about Jon.” Elliot said pointedly as he strolled right in front of Jon. Seeing the man fuming he felt a thrill. The devil may cry tonight but he would be toasting with the Watkins when this was all said and done.
Elliot walked up to Dani right to the stand. “One last question Dani, tell me where has Jackson Devonshire been the last three months.”
She glared at him and could tell Jon and Jackson wanted to pummel him in the face and she looked at Mason and her brother who nodded their head at her to answer. “He was in rehab getting what he need together for our future.”
“Doesn’t sound like that house was all too broken into to me. No further questions for the witness.” Elliot walked to his table and sat down. Placing his pencil in his mouth watching Dani pissed off and turning to see Jackson looking like he was about to explode. He should have pushed harder to have him screaming.
Mason patted Jon’s shoulder to remain calm as he gathered what he needed in his hands holding up the pictures to the courtroom and seeing the gasps come out. He walked to the desk with Elliot and then back to the stand. “Since Mr. Duval wants to focus so much on the past let’s talk about that day, about what happened to you. What happened that morning?”
Dani glared at Elliot and then looked back at Mason seeing the photos of her neck and the bruising of her face and shoulder and she took a deep breath sessions with Kelsey coming back to her. She felt the tears behind her eyes and wrung her hands in her lap. “I woke up that morning and showered Jackson had left that morning to help Rory and let me go back to sleep and sleep in. I’d been under a lot of stress prior to that. I dressed and went downstairs.” She closed her eyes for a moment and looked back at Mason. “I went to the sink for a glass of water and to take my prenatal vitamins. I’d left my phone upstairs to finish charging. I heard footsteps behind me and I looked up Kendrick Watkins was pointing a gun at the back of my head. I told him to leave to take my money and go, there were others inside I could hear them upstairs.”
Mason saw her shaking and handed her a tissue he was going to decimate everything that Elliot had just done and make them all see what they were here for. The actions that day Kendrick was a monster and he’d prove it just like he did in the investigation it was a clean shooting. “You must of been terrified. What happened next?”
“My parents made me take self defense classes in college I didn’t want to be a victim so I fought back. I tried to escape and he tripped me. When I got up he slammed me into my wall in my hallway and then hit me putting the gun back at my head. He kept going on about where they were at the time I had no idea the drugs were in my garage at the time. When I didn’t tell him he started to choke me.” She said quietly wiping at her eyes realizing she was crying and watched as Mason handed the photos to the Judge Adoni. She took a breath and everything came tumbling out. “One of his men stopped him I think he found my prenatals. I begged for my children’s life and mine. He wouldn’t let me go, so he hit me again with the gun.”
“Exhibit four your honor. Photos taken at St. Christopher’s to record the assault Ms. Fraiser suffered. You’ll find a DNA report matching Kendrick’s DNA to skin found underneath her fingernails.” Mason said turning back to Dani giving her a small smile watching her testimony swaying the judge and Elliot fummig. Walking back to his desk he booted up the laptop on it and turned back to Dani as he spoke.
“He took you hostage did he not?” Mason asked when she nodded her head he continued. “Did the torture stop there? Tell me what happened next.”
“No.” She said quietly looking at Yasmine seeing the tears in her eyes too they had bonded in that day they would be forever tied to what happened. She wiped at her face. “He put me in a room with Yasmine. Sent pictures to Jackson on my phone of me and her tied. When he spoke to him he had his men put another gun to my head. I was so scared.”
“Did Kendrick ever point a gun at Ms. Kohl’s head?” Mason asked point blank.
“Not that I recall. It was just me. We were in that room for hours and the only thing I could think about was if he was going to put a bullet in my head and throw me in a ditch. About how my children would never be born, how I would never get to hold them.” Dani said looking at Jackson who was almost breaking down too. She shook her head at the memories.
“When Kendrick took you to the viaduct he grabbed you out of the car is that correct? Where did he place you when he took you out?” Mason asked watching Eliot’s entire face change when he walked back to the laptop and put it on the stand so the judge could see.
“He placed me in front of him, twisting my arm in the back to hold me there.” Dani said glaring at Elliot on the stand.
“Exhibit five your honor. Police body cam footage of the entire shooting. Never released to the public until now.” Mason said pressing play on the camera and watched the faces. The horror on the courtroom especially Ms. Watkins as they saw him use Dani as a body shield. Heard Jon repeat the order numerous times and then the shot. He closed the laptop as he saw the judge making notes her face full of raw emotion. “Tell me Ms. Fraiser are you still terrified because of what that man did to you? You’re seeing a therapist are you not for PTSD yourself along with a high risk pregnancy is that right?”
Dani buried her face in her hands nodding her head at Mason as she wiped at the tears streaming down it. She saw the pain in her parents face, on her brother’s, in Jackson’s. Saw Yasmine crying from the memories and looked back up at Mason.
“I think we can all agree Kendrick Watkins broke into your house that day, tortured you both physically and mentally. Was on a crime spree that wouldn’t end and the police acted accordingly. No further questions your honor.” Mason said walking back to his desk and taking a seat in the chair. He watched Dani get off the stand. The emotion behind it as the courtroom looked in horror at what happened and smiled as he watched Elliot fume.
To be honest Mason was a much more competent rival in the courtroom than he thought. He had a great record but he also knew it wasn’t his turn to go up to bat. Everything he brought up he was unweaving. Which was was fine he’d do the same thing but he was much better at breaking people. He had Dani shaking but he wasn’t crazy Mason made strides with this entire courtroom. He had to show that the AFPD was after Kendrick. Watching the bailiff swearing in Cassandra Montgomery. She was stunning redhead who he felt bad for because she was with Jon. How must her life had been?
“Good afternoon Cassandra may I call you Cassie? Please tell me what your connection to Mr. Watkins because from what I see you aren’t involved in this case much more than you are dating Mr. Jon Harrison.” Elliot asked as he walked in front of Jon. Blocking her view of him. “Can you tell how you are involved in all of this?”
Cassie had sat quietly behind Jon with his family as the proceedings went on watching the cat and mouse lawyer game. She had reporters here covering the news for the paper but she was not at work today she was here to support the man she loved. When she had got the call months ago to be a witness it had surprised her she hadn’t been directly involved that day. She did know Kendrick from the club and while she had been prepped by Mason but never by Elliot meaning it was a toss up of a wildcard with him.
“Yes you may most people do. I’m dating Jon yes. I knew Kendrick from the club that my brother and I used to own.” Cassie said wondering what his next questions would be and how it all tied to his narrative.
Elliot walked to his table and opened his laptop and after a few seconds of booting it up. He played a audio recording of Cassie calling the police. “Can you tell me about September 25th 2016? That is you correct calling the police on the police for coming into the club assaulting Kendrick. Those are your words right now. What happened Cassie can you tell me because it seems to me that you saw something alarming. How many people call the police on the police? I mean that’s alarming that you felt so threatened that you informed the authorities that the authorities were harassing Mr. Watkins.”
Cassie looked at Jon and then back at Elliot and moved her neck to the side cocking her head at him. “Have you ever ran a strip club? It was a long night I believe it was kink night at the club. Kendrick was enjoying some of the girls. A man in the crowd I can barely remember who it was at the time liked the same girl. They had both been drinking and things got intense. The other man threw the first punch and then began flashing his badge around.” Cassie said looking at him amused at the turn of events he’d never witnessed a drawn out bloodbath fight in a club before she had too many times to count. “They were getting very intense and the man started to choke Kendrick in a chokehold. I called the police on the man like any concerned citizen and club owner would.”
Elliot smirked as he nodded his head at Cassie. “That’s a beautiful narrative because this is Dwan Thomas.” Holding up a picture of a young man who is vegetable laying in bed. “You see because Dwan was running with Kendrick and best friends with Khalil Watkins. That night Khalil and Dwan were at the club and when those officers came in what happened? You know what your honor I’ll tell you here is Exhibit six. Judge Adani these are Dwan’s injuries and two strippers, one citizen, and the lovely Cassie witness testimony. Dwan was beaten into a coma by three officers why because he punched out the other cop after he choked Kendrick. Now please think about your words carefully. Or shall I give you your very own witness statement Cassie.” Elliot asked leaning on the witness stand.
“You didn’t ask me about Dwan you asked me why I called the police to help Kendrick. I told you why. You want to know about Dwan you have my statement he was beaten and assaulted inside my club. It was a kink party night those can get pretty intense the fight broke out, our bouncers tried to intervene I got the call in my office and saw Kendrick getting choked I called the police.” Cassie said watching the judge flip through her statement from that night and knowing it matched. She remembered that night because she felt terrible for Dwan’s family and knew for a fact most of the officers involved that night had been let go from the department. “So again you asked me about Kendrick and I told you.”
“Correct but you were sued along with the AFPD and if I ask you about a particular date and you didn’t know where I was going with this? Once again I want you stop hiding behind that icy facade and finally admit it. You witnessed Kendrick being harrassed by the AFPD after them almost killing Dwan and assaulting Mr. Watkins. What did officer O’Malley say? What did he call Kendrick and Khalil?” Elliot knew he was going there making a white woman say the nigger word. He didn’t give a damn it was going to be more potent coming out of her mouth.
Looking down at her manicure she knew the game he was playing and then looked back up at him. “Why yes Kendrick Watkins walking enforcer for the most wanted man in the East Coast was so nice why ever would the police want to catch him in a criminal act?” Cassie said acting bored as she looked at the horror on Eliot’s face and she blew on her nails for a bit straightening her back.
“Objection your honor please strike that from the record. We have no proof that Kendrick ever worked for or with Ronan Madden.” Elliot said snidely. “Once again Cassandra, I do believe that I asked you a question. What did officer O’Malley call Kendrick and Khalil Watkins?”
“Little old me with all my privilege knows better to even say that vile and disgusting word but since you’re asking so nicely. They called him a nigger.” She shot back cocking her head to the side for the next question.
This bitch was tough as nails but he had one last bone to throw her. “Cassie please can you tell me one last thing? Did you know that drugs, prostitution, and illegal gambling were happening at Club XES? Did you ever benefit from the profits of any of those things?” Elliot grinned as he saw Judge Adani face curl in shock. “Did you make financial gains from the fact that your club was the haven for sodom and gomorrah.”
Cassie smiled as fake and as sweetly as she could at him. “How could my club be involved in the drug trade when you yourself just objected to the only connection between the two being Kendrick and Ronan Madden? But yes we did make quite the lump sum of cash on some nights you’d have to talk to our CPA Benny Ruzzio about that though if you can find him.”
“Wrong I objected to the fact that you said Mr. Watkins was connected to Ronan Madden. What proof does any of you have of that. It’s been stated in numerous testimonies today that Kendrick was a drug dealer. However you seem to think it’s cute to play in open court because your boyfriend is on trial.” He’d achieved his goal no matter what Cassie said after the fact she would be a bias witness. “No further questions your honor.” If he could he would have clapped his hand as if he shot a three-pointer in the middle of the basketball court.
Mason got up from his seat not sure what to take Cassie’s game with Elliot but it was entertaining as hell to watch. He knew the narrative had shifted and he felt a tug on his sleeve and looked down at the notepad with Braden’s note. Draw it back to his own narrative and he adjusted his tie as he approached the stand. “Seems like Mr. Duval is making my job quite easy today.”
“You’ve called the police numerous times on the club over the years you have owned it have you not? Various fights breaking out, gang rivalries heating up inside.” Mason said looking at Cassie.
“Yes.” Cassie said leaning into the microphone she didn’t care if her testimony was tainted or not she knew when to hold and when to fold. That was a hold and had been trained by her father for years.
“You had a meeting with your brother, Kendrick, Raven Paloma and Thor Luciano did you not a few days after Ronan was arrested?” Mason said watching her get uncomfortable and he looked at her. “You are under oath Ms. Montgomery.”
“Yes I did. It was a business meeting Ronan was a partner in the club with him gone we needed to figure out who would be managing his side.” Cassie said looking at her father and Ronan in the back.
“How was Kendrick that day?” Mason asked looking back at Elliot wondering how in all his investigating he never got this bit of info.
“Violent and angry. Ronan had called Paloma and outed him as his power of attorney and gave it to Thor. When Thor confronted him and told him to leave the club he threatened me, grabbing me and assaulting me. Thor and Philip pulled him off.” Cassie said looking coldly at Elliot as she spoke and Mason looked at the judge.
“What did you do afterwards?” He asked and watched as she crossed her legs and folded her hands on her lap.
“I called my father to let him know that I was signing my shares of the club over to Philip and leaving. Kendrick scared me. I’ve seen a lot of fights in the club over the years but having someone threaten my life was enough for me to want to leave.” Cassie said looking over at the judge and then back at Mason her eyes connecting with Jon.
“Before you left the club you called the police one last time did you not?” Mason asked grabbing some files from his briefcase and handing them to the judge. “Exhibit E your honor.”
Cassie nodded her head as she looked at Elliot knowing what a dangerous game Mason was playing. “I found one of our girls in the bathroom bloody and beaten, Kendrick in the stall with her ramming his fist into her face. I called the bouncer and Ivan to get him off of her.”
“Objection your honor the woman stated numerous times it wasn’t Kendrick.” Elliot said slamming his hand against the table.
“Ms. Montgomery what is her name?” Mason asked looking at Elliot with a smirk when the judge let it stand.
“Yalena Kosovic.” Cassie answer looking at Mason and knowing what he was going to ask.
“Yalena is white and Russian is she not?” Mason asked and Cassie nodded her head and he looked at judge Adani. “No further questions your honor.”
Elliot sat silently as he watched Khalil get sworn in. One of those Russians that shit pissed him off because honestly how many black men had those girls been with? They were disgusting and walking STI’s but he wouldn’t get to bent out of shape because this was the one time he felt like he had a slam dunk. Khalil was about to bring the humanity to Kendrick. He was about to show them that he wasn’t just a drug dealer and he wasn’t just a criminal. This man didn’t deserve to be shot down like some prized animal on the Harrison wall. Another nigger to hang huh? He knew he wasn’t doing his best maybe because he was nervous for the family. He wanted them to get their peace and come away knowing someone cared. That someone cared that Kendrick wasn’t pushing drugs into his community but a upscale strip club that the elite like Jackson bought at.
As he approached Khalil he lowered his voice and changed his entire demeanor. The entire trial both Mason and he had been out doing each other. This testimony he had to do something different considering that he was starting to feel like he was losing grip of everything. “Hey Khalil, how are you today? Let me start by asking you do you know where your father is?”
Khalil had sat in the courtroom all afternoon and listened to reality hitting him at the testimony he could accept that Kendrick was not the man he knew anymore. The brother that raised him, helped his mother, loved Gina and Yasmine and tried to help the youth in Scottswood was also troubled. He would have never kidnapped a pregnant woman and held her hostage, but he did. He would have never almost had Yasmine raped and nearly murdered but he did and it broke his heart. He knew his mother was feeling the same things he was and that broke him down even more the pain Yasmine and Dani went through he knew Yasmine still had nightmares too from it. Even if she acted tough like she didn’t and he wondered if he had been walking around in a daze the last few months. When Elliot had brought up Dwan he had folded his hands and closed his eyes remembering the incident. He was stuck between grieving and angry brother and he wasn’t sure what one he was supposed to be at the moment anymore.
“I’m alright.” Khalil said looking out into the courtroom and his eyes met Yasmine’s and he realized he had no idea what he was going to say on the stand right now. He knew he had to tell the truth about everything he knew about his brother if asked. He wouldn’t cry though crying was for the weak and he couldn’t remember in that instant who told him that maybe it was Kendrick or maybe it was some man that he thought was his father when he was younger. “I don’t know where my father is.” He said quietly realizing he barely had a voice and cleared his throat leaning in and speaking louder. “Sorry I don’t know where he is.”
“It’s fine Khalil. So growing up who was your male role models? You are a star basketball player now signing with AFU right? Who taught you how to play b-ball man that’s my sport.” Elliot asked knowing he was about to pull the heartstrings out of everyone.
“My brother. He made sure me and my siblings.” Khalil said his voice trailing off for a moment and then looking at his mother he finished. “He made sure we were looked after when momma had to work.”
“Your mom had to work and that left Kendrick with three other siblings. So tell me you went to Atlas Falls Preparatory how did you afford that. Your mother wasn’t wealthy and Kendrick was only twenty how could he afford that?” Elliot asked. “Well let me restate that.” Knowing that Mason would attack the fact that he was a drug dealer. “Tell me how the fact that you got to go to AFP changed your life Khalil.”
“My moms she worked three jobs for years at the same time, kept food on the table she wasn’t home a lot so Kendrick took everyone under his wing. Me and my other siblings, growing up everyone at the complex looked up to him to look out for them.” Khalil said remembering the good things about his brother, the brother that he knew and remembered. In truth he got into AFP when Kendrick had began to work for Ronan but he wasn’t sure if he should say that or not, the money started to roll in more around that time. “Atlas Falls Preparatory changed my life and my siblings. Kendrick thought I could get in there and make something of myself with basketball. Once I was in my siblings immediately were in afterwards so moms didn’t have to worry about our education anymore.”
“Tell me you’ve heard the accusations against your brother the testimonies today. Your own girlfriend Yasmine has said some damning things. What do you think brought your brother to this dark place?” Elliot said as he paced back and forth knowing the emotions of Khalil was burning.
Khalil looked at all the people in the courtroom and wasn’t sure what to make of everything that had happened how to separate the two men that were being presented to him. As his brother he wanted to believe that the man he grew up with was still that person but the things he had heard today horrified him. He met Yasmine’s eyes in the courtroom and that woman his brother kidnapped and he could barely hold either of their gazes. He had no idea what set Kendrick down that path that day but he knew it wasn’t the man he knew.
“I don’t know I went to college and didn’t come home a lot even though it was on campus. He wanted me focusing on school he told me he had the hood. He was doing good things for Scottswood to make change.” Khalil said suddenly feeling lost on the stand with his emotions. His brother did do good things for Scottswood he kept the young guys involved in the community gym the best he could yet on the other he knew he worked for Ronan and ran the Scottswood Bois gang too. “He was changing Scottswood for the better till that day. If that man would have given him a chance to explain maybe we wouldn’t be sitting here. My mother wouldn’t of had to pick out a casket.”
“I wish your family never had to pick out a casket.” His body language was so tense he read it like a book. Looking over at Mason. “One last question what was your life like before you got into AFP? Exhibit seven which is a police record that was sealed about you. In this record you were caught in a armed robbery at a local gas station across from the Scottswood projects and homes. You didn’t rob them but you were in the car. Where would you be if your big brother wouldn’t have intervened.” Elliot asked looking at Khalil. “And can you tell me what he told you when he got you in school?” It was poignant to the case and it would stay in the judge mind.
Khalil shifted in his seat slightly uncomfortable he had been with Dwan at the running with the gang for a bit thinking he was the shit. He had never seen his brother as furious as he was the day he was arrested. “I would have ended up with the gang my moms would have had to worry about both her boys. Kendrick told me to never set foot near the gang ever again and to not flush away my future. The cops that night were rough with the boys it was enough to scare me straight. So I did what he said kept my head up at school.”
“As badass as Kendrick was he kept people out of the gangs. I have countless witness statements from young men around Scottswood who say the same thing. I won’t even bring it up to you, your honor. You see Kendrick may have been a gang leader and troubled but he made a generation of young leaders. Javon Brown, Lorenzo King, Damien Porter, Khalil Watkins four men all from Scottswood who have influenced by Kendrick. Javon a med student and next year a intern at St. Christopher, Lorenzo going to school to be bioengineer, Damien a skilled artist was sent to college and now has art show in Manhattan and is being called the next Warhol, and Khalil Watkins a star basketball player and getting his degree in business. Each one of these men influenced by none other than Kendrick Watkins. We all wear two faces in life so maybe what you heard about this man on today only scratched the surface of who he was.” The murmuring in court was the best sound. “No further questions your honor.”
Mason had taken in the testimony and he did feel bad for Dinah and Khalil for what happened but he also felt for the victims of Kendrick’s terror. He reached into his briefcase pulling out some files just in case he needed them it was something he and Braden had discussed. If it came to that he could list all the crimes Kendrick had been connected to over the years. Instead he walked to the stand and looked at the boy in front of him.
“You mentioned your brother was a gang leader and you got into Atlas Falls Preparatory because of that. How was that possible with a limited income from your mother?” Mason asked looking at the boy and when he didn’t answer he looked at the judge.
“Mr. Watkins please answer councils question.” She said seeing the fear and the mix of anger on the young man’s face.
Khalil looked at Mason was he for real? His moms worked hard for her money but he knew her incomes didn’t afford school. He knew that the money didn’t start to come in till the Scottswood Bois got involved with the Madden family. He also knew anything that he said right now to implicate Ronan would lead to trouble for his family so he considered his next words carefully. “My brother paid for it.”
“How was he able to afford that? Along with a high rise condo downtown?” Mason said pausing for a moment and grabbing one of the photos the police had taken from Kendrick’s condo showing him and Ronan having beers at a barbecue together and he handed it to Khalil. “Exhibit seven your honor. How did your brother know Ronan Madden?”
Khalil gulped looking at Elliot and at the judge. “They knew each other a while I think they met in school. They attended some functions together in the neighborhood.” He stammered knowing it looked bad and incriminating.
“So were to believe that a lowly drug dealer who was friends with Ronan Madden was able to afford over a million dollars in tuition costs for you and your siblings and pay cash for his big rise condo downtown with no help whatsoever from his very connected friend.” Mason said and then he went in for the kill with it he wanted that outburst from Khalil. “Who was Lorenzo “Loco” Ramirez?”
Khalil looked at him he had run with Loco back in the day and he knew damn well that Loco joined the gang not ran from it. He watched Elliot knowing Mason was again twisting things. “He was a friend of mine.”
“Did you know Loco tried to rape Yasmine that night at the club and your brother killed him point blank with a shot to the head?” Mason asked watching the anger boil to the surface. “Should Kendrick of waited and asked a few questions later perhaps let the assault continue.”
“He wouldn’t of done that you asshole! Loco was mad as shit probably doped up!” Khalil yelled at Mason.
“Didn’t Jon do the same thing to your brother?” Mason asked watching the boy lose it on the stand.
“That is not the same thing mother fucker and you know it!” Khalil screamed feeling the tears fall down his cheeks as he looked at Mason and the Judge banged her gavel.
“Order Mr Watkins. Mr. Duvall your client has another outburst like that I’ll remove him.” She warned as she looked at Mason and the faces in the courtroom.
“Calm down and answer the questions, Khalil.” Elliot said looking at Mason with disgust but also happiness. This was going to backfire making the family cry never was a good move.
Mason leaned into the stand looking the boy dead in the eyes. “You’re right it’s not. It’s fine for your brother to put a bullet in a man hurting someone you love. But when an officer does it to protect two terrified women he’s called a coward, a killer. That Mr. Watkins is hypocrisy at its finest if I’ve ever seen and heard it. No more questions your honor.”
“I’d like to redirect your honor.” Elliot said looking at Mason. “Can you tell me one thing Khalil, why are you upset. You haven’t shed a tear in this courtroom all day. What has set you off.” Elliot asked knowing the young man was about to unleash.
“Because if I lose my shit I’ll be known as the angry black man, if I cry I’ll be the weak man. I can’t be angry, I can’t be sad and all you and everyone else in this room can do is judge my brother who can’t be here to defend himself or his actions. Cops in this town get away with shit all the time and that asshole in that chair over there is just like them!” Khalil said as the tears finally streamed down his face and even seeing that his mother was shaking her head at him. He wondered if she was suddenly having a change of heart and he looked at Elliot. “I’m sorry for what he did to Yasmine and that other girl but that didn’t mean he had to die or maybe it did. I just want him to admit it. That he shot him without even caring about what would happen after because deep down he wanted too.” He took a few deep breaths on the stand and looked at the judge.
“You may step down Mr. Watkins.” Judge Adani said as a hush fell over the courtroom at his outburst.
“After that I think we all deserve a few moments.The court is in recess for thirty minutes.” Judge Adani says as she felt breathless. There was no winners or losers today. She knew that no matter what happened lives wouldn’t just mend together. It was a long road for both sides to forgive themselves. Watching everyone stand she walked out into the back.
Jackson walked to Dani immediately infuriated at her and everyone. He was pissed at her for hiding all these fears she was having. Kelsey and everyone knew but him and that hurt. As he touched her hand and bit his lip. “I was in rehab, not a cradle. I would have loved to help you through something even if I caused it. You have always placed a cape on with me and I am demanding you start letting me in. You start to tell me what my actions have done to you because I placed those drugs in your house. I did this and I need to see what I am doing to the people I love. So please stop hiding things from me as if I am a child. I’m not and I am not about to relapse just because some difficult comes my way alright? So stop it Dani or else we won’t make it. Secrets destroy and we saw how much it took a toll on us last year.” Jackson said as he folded his arms finally happy to get that out.
“I love you so much and I’m sorry okay. I swear I’ll never hurt you again like that.” He opened up his arms and turned around watching Yasmine holding Kendrick. “I guess we see why she isn’t with Rory anymore.” He saw Jamal and Rory sitting on the other side. He took Dani hand and walked to his brother and godbrother.
Dani looked at him not sure what to say to him, he was away in rehab there was nothing he could do across an ocean and at the time she didn’t think he needed to worry about that. He needed to focus on his recovery and she supposed she did put a wall up about the kidnapping. Maybe it was fear deep down inside of her, she felt her cousin squeeze her shoulder looking at Kelsey who made her way to the bathroom. “You were gone Jackson there wasn’t anything you could have done in rehab. I guess I thought I was protecting you from it from the guilt and everything else. I wanted to be strong and for you not to see me as some weak china doll. I’m sorry I should have told you okay?” She looked at him and then at Rory and Jamal.
“It’s fine.” Jackson said smiling looking at his fiance. “I just was shocked when Mason was asking you some of that. You have my soul Dani, I’m the only one who didn’t know exactly what was going on with you. That just made me feel I don’t know. I don’t want to feel like that again.” He saw Jamal and Rory focusing on Khalil and Yasmine. “Hey loverboy go get her back if you want her Rory. You ready for the stand Jamal?” Jackson said watching Rory staring at Khalil and Jackson.
Jamal shook his head looking at them. “I’m good Jackson, I have to take a leak.” He walked away swiftly with a stiff expression on his face. He just felt like he was drowning underneath all of the things he set in motion. Tears burned his eyes as he saw Ivan and some of the Scottswood Bois standing outside the courtroom.
Yasmine looked up making eye contact with Dani and Jackson. She watched them walking to Rory as she held her boyfriend. He was crying in her arms as she didn’t know how to help him. “I know you are hurting boo.” She said softly as she wiped her eyes. Knowing that this was a fucked up situation. Never had she seen so many people touched by someone in different ways. Like Elliot said it was like two different people. Kissing his forehead she saw Rory watching her and she stood up with Khalil. She saw Ms. Watkins walking out of the bathroom with Cassie right behind her. She wondered if they even spoke.
“Khalil we can’t fall apart right now come on, I know it’s easier said than done but I need you to be strong. Your momma gotta still get on the stand. That’s why we gotta be strong.” Yasmine said as she watched Cassie strutting to Jon. “I can’t stand that bitch.”
Khalil couldn’t hold it together once they reached the outside of the hallway and taking a seat on the bench he had put his head in his hands and cried. Cried for the man the thought he knew as his brother, cried for everything that Yasmine and that other girl had been through. Cried for his mother and Gina, his mother hand come and placed her hand on his shoulder and then he looked up when Yasmine had come over and held him. “Everyone’s hurting this is not what I thought it would be. I thought it would be simple you never told me all of that. What he did to your or that girl.” He took a deep breath seeing Cassie and his mom exiting the bathroom. “I didn’t think it would be like this that I’d be so conflicted Yasmine.”
She wiped his eyes and smiled at him. “Well a woman like me likes to keep her cards to her vest. I don’t show everything that I go through because honestly. I just didn’t want to do what’s happening now baby. I didn’t want to taint your feelings about your brother. Yeah all that happened and Dani didn’t even tell it all. That’s the worst part but I’m thinking somethings should be left unsaid. I’m here giving all I can to tell you how much Kendrick is your brother and you can love your siblings and family even when they are in the wrong.” Yasmine said softly touching his facial hair.
Jon looked up at Cassie who was standing before him with a big smile on her face. “Stop grinning like that. This is horrible and it’s even worse for that man’s family. The Watkins didn’t deserve what Mason did to them. Elliot is a asshole but Khalil flipping out and soon his mom is on the stand. They are going to decimate a hard working woman. You know she worked at my grandparents nursing home years ago. Before Nana Harrison died she was her caregiver and amazing. It sucks because she raised a monster but I don’t feel good Cassie. I don’t like them ripping apart people. Did you see Yasmine, hell Dani, and Khalil man I’m in my feelings about all this.” He felt Devin hand on his back. “I hate this man.” He turned around as he hugged his best friend and saw Miranda behind them.
“Everyone keeps saying Mason and Braden are doing great but why don’t I feel good about any of this. It’s horrible.” He said pacing away from Cassie, Miranda, and Devin. “I just want this to be over.”
Cassie watched Jon leave the courtroom and she had looked over at Dinah Watkins and she could swear she saw the same look on that woman’s face. Regret, fear the same thing etched in Jon’s and she waved at Dani as she passed her and Jackson following Jon out of the courtroom. She had went to powder her nose in the bathroom and handed Ms. Watkins a tissue on her way out no doubt the woman was going through hell. She didn’t think Mason would have went that hard but he was doing his job, she knew though Braden would go harder on Jamal. “They’re doing their jobs Jon. No one is right or wrong today we both know that.”
Devin had sat silent during the proceedings catching side eye from Merci on the other side of the room.In truth he had to pick a side that day. Today he was on Jon’s side he was there he saw everything first hand. Jon made the right call a call that no one on the force ever really wanted to make. When Jon hugged him he hugged him back and caught the looks from Elliot and Ms. Watkins over his shoulder. “Let Mason and Braden do what they were hired too. Ignore what the kid said on the stand you made the right call that day.”
Jon knew time was almost up. He knew he made the right call but he also knew that his call had affected a entire community. How was he supposed to take that? Hell when he was teen his parents said stay out of Scottswood and now he was the person who took away someone away who was helping the people of that community. He just felt like his stomach was tight from all the horrible things that was happening. Today was a day of contradictions because honestly did he make the right move? Did he do the best thing in that situation. He felt like the world was flipping upside down. “I feel like I hurt everyone just as much as Kendrick did. And that man brought up that boy.” Jon punched the wall thinking about Iraq.
“He talked like I don’t live with what I did. That I didn’t save almost my entire troop from that assault and one kid. One kid got shot and I.” Jon waved his hand as he walked away from them all. Jon went outside of the courtroom through the back entrance and took a deep breath because he felt the anxiety rising and most of all his guilt was boiling.
Miranda watched her brother go and stopped Cassie from following him Jon needed a moment, he wasn’t going to run off or anything like that but she knew Iraq was a tough spot for him. In truth Elliot bringing it up made her angry that was a sealed mission file and she wondered how he even got it she looked up at Devin. Thankful that he was still on Jon’s side. “Let him go alright he’ll be back in a little bit by the time we have to go back.”
“Court is now back in session.” Judge Adani said lowering her gavel and looking at Mason. “Mr. Delacroix you may begin.
Mason rose from his seat as he looked at the judge and back looking at Braden and Jamal. “Your honor as per his plea agreement with the district attorney’s office I call Jamal Delacroix to the stand. As part of plea agreement district attorney Braden Fraiser will be doing the cross. He’s also my brother it would a conflict for me to conduct the cross.” Mason said handing her a copy of Jamal’s plea agreement and watching her nod her head at the paperwork.
“Very well we will proceed. Mr. Delacroix please take the stand.”
Jamal walked through the courtroom and trying to not look at the eyes that were on him. Just a year ago the Scottswood Bois were his friends. Now he didn’t even speak to them and it hurt actually. He learned a lot in the streets and as he placed his hand on the bible he wondered what Braden was going to say. Not only that wasn’t it a conflict of interest for this motherfucker to examine him? After all he was still married to Selina for now. As he sat down he felt the cold wood against his body and tensed up. He sat quietly wondering what Braden was about to pull. He saw his mom, father, and his eyes bucked as he saw Selina sitting with a white man.
Braden watched as the bailiff swore him in and rose from his seat unbuttoning his suit coat he looked at Mason and the rest of Jamal’s family. He could have swore he saw Selina in the back but instead focused back in on this moment. They’d fallen out over Jamal partly and he wasn’t even sure about the rest and right now he didn’t care. What he did care about was Jon walking away without having to pay Kendrick’s family a cent and getting his career back. He was a good cop period and bad cops needed to be weeded out of the system but Jon was not one of those and he approached Jamal on the stand.
“How did you meet Kendrick Watkins?” Braden asked looking at his soon to be ex-brother in law right in the eyes he was under oath, no lying and no games.
“I was in Club XES and I saw him across the room.” Jamal said honestly. “I knew who he was because of his association with my godbrother Jackson Devonshire.” This was easy so far.
Braden nodded his head at Jamal looking back at Mason and over at Dinah Watkins. “How did that first meeting go? Do you remember what Kendrick was doing at the time it occurred?”
“He was watching the girls dancing and then I followed him into the back of the club. It was there I saw the drugs and Yasmine Kohl picking up her packages. He threatened me saying that if I wasn’t about this life then I should go. I however was interested and stayed.” Jamal said biting his lip.
“So you witnessed first hand Kendrick trade off his drugs to Yasmine Kohl correct?” Braden said pausing and then looking back at Jon’s family and Selina before turning back. “Before this you had no connection to the Scottswood neighborhood correct? You grew up in a mansion on the Delacroix estate correct? Did Yasmine know who you were at the time?”
Jamal knew that it would come up and he knew that he had to face it. “Yes I did but we all know Kendrick was a drug dealer. So why we even going through all that?” Jamal spat at Braden. “I said that Yasmine was picking up her package and no one knew that I was a Delacroix. My cousin Devin used to hang out in Scottswood man back in the day. I was always intrigued by the hood and I wanted to know my family past.” He said folding his arms.
“After your initial meeting you enrolled in another college did you not under a presumed name? You began a business relationship with Kendrick did you not, in fact instead of pulling you out of the gang and the hood he did the opposite in making you his college dealer is that correct?” Braden said looking at him and then looking over at Mason watching his jaw drop and then turned back to Jamal. “Your cousin is a police officer as well is he not?”
“Yeah just like my sister who left your bitch ass.” He said underneath his breath and calmed himself down. Wasn’t he supposed to be trying to establish Jon as a clean shot? What did any of his shit have to do with this? “No incorrect Mr. Fraiser, Kendrick didn’t make me a college drug dealer. I did that all on my own. I informed him that I was from Philly and lied that I sold drugs in Philly. He thought I was about the lifestyle that he lived. I changed my proper speak and started to talk like dis bro. It didn’t take long but everybody I was about the gang and drug life. As for my cousin he was once a Scottswood Boi but after an arrest and someone mentoring him Devin got out of that life. He changed and became a cop which we are all proud of.”
Braden looked at Jamal and went back to the desk picking up the photos of the surveillance the FBI had on him with Kendrick and Ronan. Walking to the judge he handed them to her. “Exhibit eight your honor establishing that Jamal Delacroix had a relationship with both Kendrick Watkins and Ronan Madden. You’ll notice the time and date on the photo as July 9th 2016.” He waited a moment seeing Jamal recognize the date as a run he went on with Kendrick where a gun fight had broken out.
“Do you remember the date in question Jamal? Or should I give you a refresher?” Braden asked looking at him for an answer.
“To be honest I don’t recall Mr. Fraiser.” Jamal said sucking his teeth.
He turned the the courtroom and then back at Jamal. ‘I’ll refresh it for you since you seem to be having trouble recalling things. There was an altercation with a rival gang that night was there not you remained in the car while Kendrick, Loco and a man named Money exited the vehicle.” Braden said looking at the judge and then over at Jamal again he would establish that Jamal had seen Kendrick kill without mercy first hand. Kendrick had executed a rival gang member point blank in the back of the head. “I can pull up the footage from the street cameras if you would like.”
Jamal sat silent for a few seconds as his heart began to pound. “Bullets were flying everywhere. It was crazy that night you know.” Loco, Money, and Kendrick were all dead now. He didn’t want to join that list but he knew the look his parents were giving him he had to admit it. “Listen, that night we rolled right into the Eastsiders. Next thing I knew everyone was shooting and Kendrick told me to stay in the car and protect the drugs. So he went up against them with his soldiers in Loco, and Money. So what else do you want to know because it was a shootout.”
He walked to Mason laptop and brought it out looking at Jamal. “Exhibit nine your honor street cam footage to show that Kendrick Watkins killed an unarmed rival gang member in cold blood.” He pressed play on the footage and watched as the faces in the courtroom contorted in horror and looked back at Jamal closing the laptop. “The man’s name was Vincent Nunez who was working for the Falcone cartel. Kendrick didn’t ask questions didn’t give the man a chance to even defend himself. You sat in the car watching and did nothing. That was not the only time you saw Kendrick murder someone in cold blood was it?”
Jamal heart was pounding as he thought about Benny. Fuck was he trying to get him to snitch on the stand? Thinking fast Jamal knew he had to say the correct thing. Raven Paloma was sitting right there and she was reporting everything to Ronan no doubt. “What was I supposed to do Mr. Fraiser? Was I supposed to take out my cell phone and report Kendrick blowing my cover and getting me and my family in danger? You are married to my sister right? So was I supposed to call the police and get my sister raped, beaten, or killed? No that wasn’t what I wanted so I stayed silent. Yeah I saw Kendrick kill quite a few people but I was trapped so how do you get away from a sociopath.” Jamal immediately regretted calling Kendrick a sociopath but it was true. The man rejoiced in killing others and that was something he couldn’t forget.
Braden knew the moment Jamal said the words sociopath he didn’t have to push more to establish Kendrick as exactly that a murder in court. He could have pushed further about Ronan but knew it would be a dead end and he had what he and Mason needed. “You were arrested on my wedding day to your sister were you not and put on house arrest after your cousin went to the authorities to pull you out of your mess is that correct? You then continued to lie and put other people’s lives in danger instead of turning on Kendrick. You were the one that took the drugs to Yasmine at the club trying to make a play. Jeopardizing not only her life, the life of my sister and her unborn children. Endangering yourself and your entire family. Knowing full well what Kendrick was and as we have established clearly capable of. In your opinion had Jon Harrison not put a stop to his behavior that night would there be more caskets parents would have had to pick out and people to mourn?”
Jamal sat with tears in his eyes as he gritted his teeth looking at Braden. “This motherfucker shouldn’t be here with me right now. He is my brother-in-law and bitter because my sister left his ass in front of the world. He lonely and bitter she don’t want him. I wish someone would have put a bullet in your bitch ass.” Looking at Mason face he saw his shock and his parents were disgusted at what he just said. Selina shocked face didn’t help how he felt. He saw Ivan and the Scottswood Bois nodding and hollering.
“Young man I suggest you refrain and because you two are connected I’ll let that go. Understand we take threats against a district attorney very seriously so I suggest you refrain from speaking like that again or I’ll have you in custody for a very stressful night for you.” Judge Adani said knocking her gavel silencing the courtroom.
“Kendrick when he was on his high horse could be unreasonable. I knew I had some drugs he needed and I had them stored in my other dorm room. So I went and got them giving them to Yasmine. I thought this would be a smooth transition and I called Yasmine because I wanted to help my godbrother. Rory Devonshire honestly he deserved to have his girl free from underneath Kendrick thumb. I was trying to fix what I had broken.” Jamal said looking around as his eyes started to burn from the tears he was trying to not get to drop. “If it wasn’t for me and what I did then maybe Kendrick would be here. I just wanted to unweave the web that I weaved. I knew what I did was horrible and I knew I just set so many people up. I didn’t do it intentionally I just wanted to see what it was like not to be rich and not to have any and everything at my fingertips. I got pulled in shit I didn’t want but I did everything I could to help myself, and Yasmine. Hell even Kendrick because he was going to get those drugs and be good.”
“That’s not what I asked Jamal with Kendrick threatening to kill you, kidnapping Yasmine Kohl and Dani Fraiser had he been on his power trip something you had witnessed first hand yourself numerous time. Had the police not put a stop to it would he have put a bullet inside those two women to prove to himself he was a god among men in Scottswood?” Braden asked leaning in for the kill as he looked at Jamal.
“I don’t know because I’m not Kendrick. All I can speak for is what I witnessed. He loved Yasmine and hell in my opinion he might have let them go if the police didn’t swarm him. I don’t know I guess Mr. Fraiser you can spin it to sound like that. Kendrick would prove his way one way or another so you make of that what you will.” Jamal said knowing it wasn’t what Braden wanted.
“I think we can all agree we don’t know when we will get a straight answer out of you Jamal what we do know is that Kendrick was a murderer in cold blood that kidnapped two young women who he assaulted and tortured.” Braden said glaring at him and then looking at the judge.
“Objection your honor badgering the witness.” Elliot said immediately. “Honestly this is beginning to feel much more personal than I want to deal with.”
“No more questions your honor Mr. Duvall he’s all yours.” Braden said walking back to his seat and touching Mason’s shoulder. Knowing he did what he needed with Jamal.
“No I think he’s all your Mr. Fraiser I’d hate to be you when this is over.” The court laughed as Elliot. “Jamal I have one question for you and this is going to really establish everything I need to say. Who is Jamal Baptiste?”
Jamal was shook instantly as he looked at Elliot who was smiling ear to ear. “Jamal Baptiste was my alias that I used when I introduced myself to Kendrick.”
“My fault youngblood I lied to you. My next question is who are you?” Elliot said as he leaned against his desk.
“I’m me, I’m unsure on how to answer this question.” Jamal said looking at Mason.
“Well it’s clear you have aggression Jamal however you aren’t a criminal you ran to your sister so fast to get you out of your troubles. You however have also ran with cold hearted criminals and lies convincingly enough to trick them. Not only did you trick them you lied so much you couldn’t keep straight. You were dating Rachel Morrison correct at that time. You two fell apart because of this right?” Elliot asked looking at his shock.
“Yeah but what are you asking?” Jamal said confused.
“Tell me how did Kendrick talk about the Devonshire’s or Delacroixs or any of the elitist family that live in Atlas Falls?” Elliot asked as he walked up to Jamal.
“Kendrick hated the rich in town he just talked that they always come to Scottswood and give out handouts to make there taxes easier. He would go on tangents about the rich all the time. He didn’t like anyone who turned their back on Scottswood.”
“So tell me Jamal if you had told the truth? Do you think you’d ever be around Kendrick. You lied and pretended to be someone else. You sat back and soaked up the black culture because you bougie ass family never gave you the flavor you craved. I know you hate to hear this young man but you appropriated a culture to become some music producer. I’m not saying you aren’t black but I am saying your lies set Kendrick off until he snapped. He looked at you as a little brother did he not? He made sure you didn’t get blood on your hands and only thing you did was sell drugs correct?”
Jamal sat silent for a moment as tears fell down his face. He couldn’t help it because honestly if he never did any of this then so many things would be different. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry man.” He said crying looking at him.
“You should be because his mother and everyone who depended on Kendrick don’t have him. We can actually trace all the horrible things that happened to Yasmine, Dani, and hell everyone in this court to you. His real little brother is hurting, and so many others. Mr. Baptiste.. I mean Mr. Delacroix interesting boy French creole names. No further questions.” Elliot said watching the court shook that he brought Jamal to his knees.
Jamal walked off stand and his heart started to beat as he rushed out of the entire courtroom. He felt Rory behind him but he couldn’t take it. He was the cause of all this mess and he knew it. No matter how many times people said it wasn’t his fault he knew it was. He knew that he was forever going to be haunted by this. When he turned around he felt Rory hand on his shoulder and saw Selina looking at him.
Selina brushed past Rory and hugged her little brother. “I know baby.”
“I just want to be forgiven God I’m so sorry Selina. I’m so so so so sorry.” Jamal said crying and screaming into his sister’s shoulder.
Mason watched Jamal leave and wanted to go after his brother and instead he saw Rory and Selina go after him, he knew right now he had to keep his head in the game. He looked over at Braden and knew this would the moment it swayed to their side fully putting Jon on the stand was risky but they had agreed it was the only way to get Jon’s truth out and he looked at him. Elliot likely thought they would hide Jon away and not let him speak or take the stand in his defense. It was something they had all talked about and as much as he knew if certain things came out about Jon’s torture in Iraq about him losing his entire until and that awful decision he had to make with a child suicide bomber it was the only way to have his truth heard. He and Braden had been preparing him for months him playing good lawyer Braden playing bad one.
“Are you ready?” When he saw Jon nod he looked at the Judge. “Your honor I call Jon Harrison to the stand.”
Jon stepped up and after being sworn in he felt like his stomach was tight. He’d watch Braden eviscerate Jamal on stand and Elliot finish the kid off. He told him that he was appropriating the black culture. God what a mess was this because any hope for Braden and Selina was dead. He also felt like deep down that was personal because Braden was hurt. He knew that Jamal became a big wedge between them. As he sat down after being sworn in he looked at Mason and Judge Adani. He saw his mother and father smiling at him and he gave them a small smile back. Darting his eyes to Cassie she was nodding her head.
“Mr. Harrison do you consider yourself to be a good cop?” Mason asked as he approached the stand offering Jon a small smile as he did. “In fact you are one of the most decorated in your department are you not? You have turned down many promotions to move up. Turned down lucrative private security firms for your services in order to serve as a lead detective at the Atlas Falls police department why is that?”
Jon cleared his throat the silence in the courtroom was almost eerie. “I consider myself to be one of the best cops on the force. Although all the men in blue, my brothers break their neck in a impossible job.” He commented as he felt himself looking at the Scottswood Bois who were here to show that Scottswood wasn’t forgotten. “I turned down a security job at DGI because I feel like I’m here to help and protect the citizens of Atlas Falls. I have given my life to protecting others first the country now my community. Sometimes you turn out to be the bad guy when all along you are a good person.” Jon said feeling passionate about what he was saying.
Mason nodded his head at Jon they wanted to paint Jon as a racist he’d prove them wrong and walking to his desk he picked up a picture of Jon’s unit from his second tour. Showing it to the courtroom letting them see Jon in uniform with people from all backgrounds around him and handed the picture to Jon. “You wanted to honor these people didn’t you? Who are the people in the picture tell me what happened to them.”
Jon looked at that picture and gulped hard he fought so hard to get back from that dark place. He wanted so badly to not remember how dark his life had gotten. “Yeah I can tell you what happened. I was distracted after I shot a child who picked up a gun. I tried to save the kid and we were ambushed. My entire unit was killed picked off during a gunfight that lasted hours on hours. I was shot in my shoulder and then taken by Al Qaeda and they executed anyone of them that wasn’t dead. Michelle the only woman on my team was brutally raped over and over again. Then they killed her calling her a lesbian and abomination to Allah. They beheaded her and had me chained up and I couldn’t do a damn thing.” Jon saw the court falling into a silence. “I went crazy and tried as hard as I could. I tried to get them but I was beaten, shot, and a POW.”
“Your family thought you were dead for weeks. When they rescued you from the militants who had you, you then returned home. You joined the police force afterwards, you did spend time in the VA for PTSD. Mr. Duvall brought that up. You went to the VA for help after a bought with feeling lost again correct?” Mason asked looking at Jon sympathetically.
“Correct I was having dreams about my unit and I was taking antidepressants as if they were candy. I began to see my unit it became to much because I was dating a woman. She um gave me some drugs at the time. I never took any drugs but what was prescribed to me. When I found out what she did I knew that I had to let her go and leave to get help. I couldn’t sleep and wouldn’t eat because honestly I didn’t want to survive. I didn’t want to be alive then and still to this day. I honestly feel like I should have died with my unit.” Jon said seeing his mother crying into his father’s shoulder. His lip quivered as he bit down to try to keep himself from crying.
Mason knew everyone in the courtroom was seeing what they needed Jon was human and as an officer was placed in the position of making choices everyday people could never imagine to make. “Take me through what happened when Jackson and Rory Devonshire came to the police station. You and your partner Devin had already found evidence that Yasmine was taken by Kendrick, looked at the footage to realize she had been nearly raped and assaulted by Kendrick’s mean inside Club XES.”
“The men came into the police station. Once Jackson explained the chain of drugs I became infuriated because as Dani has said I’ve known her since she was born. Unreciprocated feelings or not I would do anything to protect her. Ms. Kohl had become very close to my sister while she was undercover. The universe was telling me that I had to fight back and get them from Kendrick. He was sinister and everyone in the police force knew it. Those women were in mass danger because if we didn’t do all we could then we’d lose them and potentially the only two people who could finally put him behind bars. They then contacted Mr. Devonshire and we together knew that we were going to have to get Jackson to go to the drop spot. We together, my partner and I along with over twenty other cops went to the viaduct. Once there Jackson went out there and we came out. He was surrounded and we made sure of that. It was no where for Kendrick to go. That’s when he grabbed Dani and I was shocked. Seeing the horror on her face about all of this. I knew then that this wasn’t going to end good. He placed a gun to her head and I begged him, I begged him as you all saw on the video. I asked him to place the gun down and when he didn’t I saw his finger shaking on the trigger. I’d see that look before in Iraq. So many people killed before their own death and I wouldn’t have a pregnant woman dead on my watch. As lead detective I made a call to shoot Kendrick because I didn’t want Yasmine, or Dani hurt.”
“For the record lethal force was reiterated as the last resort by your superior at the time Gideon Morrison. Mr. Duval asked why you didn’t shoot another part of Kendrick can you verify that in doing so would have meant putting a bullet into the kidnapping victim who is pregnant endangering her life.” Mason said he saw Jon nod and looked over at the Judge and back at Jon. “For the record you did not want to shoot Kendrick you said so yourself the intent at the time was to bring him in alive. His actions led to you making the decision you did correct?”
“Correct, if we could have flipped Kendrick then we could have taken down one of the biggest mob factions in the United States. I wanted that so badly because how are drugs being pushed into Scottswood or Atlas Falls hell the United States? These mobsters are working together and us police officials the FBI, CIA, State, Local, and other divisions don’t. That’s how they are winning and it’s almost sickening but I wanted him so alive. If I would have shot anywhere else Dani would have been injured.” Jon gulped as he looked at Mason. “It wasn’t about anything but securing those women.”
Mason looked at Braden who nodded his head at him for now that all they had they would redirect after Elliot went. “No further questions at this time. Your honor.”
“Your witness Mr. Duvall.” The Judge said.
“Mr. Harrison I want to thank-you for your professionalism and protecting our country. I don’t know if I could have fought in that war or any war. Can you tell me was Devin Thompson your first partner?” Elliot asked looking at Jon.
“No I was originally assigned with KC Rhodes and I actually introduced him to my sister. I now have a beautiful niece from that marriage. KC left to the FBI after training at Quantico and moved my sister away. That’s when I got Devin.” Jon said smiling at his partner.
“Interesting have you and your partner Devin always gotten along?” Elliot asked looking at Jon.
“As far as I know, I mean we have had spats but Devin and I have developed a tighter bond over the last year. It started off rocky and we worked our way through. I was used to working with KC and he was used to be a beat cop. I know that was were our transition came from but this last year we’ve solved the case of Steven Kincaid murder, along with plenty of others. We have hit our stride as men and law enforcers.”
“Then why did you say a racial statement to him?” Elliot said with disgusted look on his face. “You know I heard you asked him to talk to Kendrick because he was one of your people. That was your words correct Jon?”
Jon sat silent wondering who would use this moment as a way to stick it to him. Everyone knew that day his words were taken out of context. He looked at Mason and Braden. “Yes those were my words.”
“Now tell me what people were you talking about? Black people? Hell ethnic people? Is it true you told Devin not to use the black card?”
“Yes but once again that was taken out of context we were having a debate and it got heated but I’m not a racist.” Jon said looking at Mason and Braden praying they could stop this.“I mean you did kill a kid in Iraq didn’t you? You killed a little boy in Iraq and you killed Kendrick also not because you were trying to protect her not everyone. You wanted him alive why the head? How did you know he was going to shoot Jon? Huh? Your instincts didn’t your instincts get a entire unit killed?” Elliot screamed letting his voice shake the courtroom. “Didn’t you lead your entire division and troop into there death and you want us to pretend to not see you would kill?”
“Objection your honor badgering the witness on hearsay.” Mason said looking at Judge Adani on the statement based on an off handed comment.
“I’ll rephrase since Mr. Delacroix is getting sensitive today. Jon did you shoot…”
“I shot him.” Jon said slamming his hand down on the stand. “I shot him because I thought he was going to kill them. I got them all killed because I killed a little boy. I should have been paying attention but I wasn’t and the next thing I knew. The bullets and my entire unit was being picked off one by one. I tried so badly to save that kid and I shouldn’t have.” Jon slapped his head. “I should have been in the field and I should have just kept shooting maybe someone family wouldn’t have seen my face. I went to everyone in my troop family and apologized but I can still see his little face losing the air out of his body. “So I’m sorry for not protecting my unit and I’m sorry for killing that boy but I can’t apologize Ms. Watkins. I can’t say I’m sorry for killing Kendrick. Your son made my life miserable and killed so many people. He hurt so many people and I feel sympathy for you and your son and his siblings. They are so young and will never know Kendrick apparently the way Khalil did. I just couldn’t let his reign of terror continue and I had to end it. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry because I never meant to ruin your lives. I never meant to hurt anyone but I couldn’t. I couldn’t let him kill Dani or Yasmine.” Jon broke down on the stand crying tears.
Elliot felt like he’d just won the lottery it showed how emotionally unstable this man truly was. “And this is the most decorated man on the police force. I wouldn’t want this man planting my flowers in my garden. No further questions your honor.” Elliot walked to sit down at his desk. He lowered his this was getting exhausting because honestly was Jon that bad? This man was a war hero and he even knew.
“Permission to redirect your honor?” Mason asked and waited for the judge as he approached the stand with a picture in his hand. He had waited to play this trump card dead last.
“Your honor I don’t think we should rehash anything. Come on this is clearly a ploy from Mr. Frasier and Mr. Delacroix. I just gained major traction and they are trying to introduce something new. I’m not here for it.” Elliot said looking at the other two men.
“I’ll allow it Mr. Duval make it quick counsel.” The Judge said.
“Bullshit.” Elliot said whispering to Braden.
Mason handed him the photo of a young boy smiling at Jon in the photo the brother of the boy he shot. “That is Mohamed Yasir is he not the brother of the boy you had to take action against? The boy who lead the unit to your rescue from Al Qaeda. You arranged for his family to come to the states where he is entering college as a medical major is he not?” Mason asked looking at the tears falling down Jon’s face as he nodded and turning back to the Judge. “I’d hardly call that being the monster Mr. Duval has made him out to be. No more questions your honor.”
Mason had let the hush fall over the courtroom as Jon got off the stand and looked at Braden who had an emotionally drained look on his face too. Elliot looked the same and he had to wonder if Jon and Dinah Watkins had ever actually spoke outside of the courtroom if this all would have turned out different. He didn’t want to call her but he knew he had to and he looked down at the note from Braden to go gentle on her on the stand. He raised his eyebrow at Braden he was deviating from the plan their prep had been to push hard. He rose from his seat and looked over at Elliot and Dinah Watkins.
“Your honor we would like to call Dinah Watkins to the stand.” Mason said his voice cracking slightly as people in the court whispered.
Dinah Watkins had been watching the entire case and felt weak. Her heart was broken a long time ago when she figured out she sold her son to the life. The lifestyle of a gangster and she didn’t stop him. Somehow his soul was sucked out of his body. Nothing prepared her for this though. Hearing all his sins made her feel like she would rot in hell for every penny she took from him. She had Kelandra and Kallen after Khalil and she didn’t want them in the hood either. She wanted better and took the money knowing all the blood that covered it. The high rise apartment and so much more luxuries. She loved her baby but hearing he murdered, and instilled fear in her. That wasn’t the man she raised and she prayed God had mercy on him. Slowly touching the holy bible her hand was shaking as the bailiff swore her in.
Sitting down she slowly cracked her knuckles as she rocked slowly. Never had she felt like this because honestly she swore to herself she’d never let her children carry the burden. Looking up at Mason she smiled at the young man. Clearly throwing him off everyone had such sadness and malice. She just wanted to drop this at this moment. She wanted the lawsuit over and her to be happy mother again. She didn’t want to cry anymore and she didn’t want her children to cry anymore. She wanted her peace. “Go on baby.”
Mason wasn’t even sure how he was going to ask this poor woman what he had to and he bit back his own tears in his eyes wondering if he and Elliot should just call it a day and be done. He looked over at Jon and then back at Dinah knowing that she deserved her fair shake as well. He cleared his throat to get his emotions in check and approached the stand slowly. “I’m sure today has been hard on you Ms. Watkins I do apologize for that. Khalil testified earlier to his upbringing in the Scottswood area for most of his life can you tell me and the court about that. As a single mother I imagine it was very hard.”
Dinah smiled to keep from crying as her eyes grew sad. “Scottswood has always been where Atlas Falls elite placed the disenfranchised people. I was young and had Kendrick on my hip everywhere. It was a positive place at one time everyone looking out for each other. It was when the crack epidemic hit that Scottswood transformed. The eighties was hard on us all and I absolutely know that it killed Kendrick and Khalil’s father. The violence began when the Eastsiders and the Scottswood Bois would go to war. Scottswood houses latino and black predominantly but we have our whites too. I became a CNA in the nineties and it barely put food on my table. My sons were growing and getting bigger so was Kendrick’s hunger for something more. I worked three jobs night and day minimum wage. It was hard raising a boy into a man by myself. I don’t know what it is like to be a man. I did the best I could. The streets just got a grip on my baby when he began to be tired to see me crying, the lights out, and no food in the fridge. I woke up with a smile on my face though and he did too at one time.” Dinah said softly as she wiped her eyes.
Mason nodded his head he had drove by the Scottswood area once with his father a lesson when they talked about growing up as a black man the path it could lead to. He knew going back to his grandparents both of them were from the projects and his parents strived for better it was when the DGI boom hit around the eighties that they came into their wealth. He had to wonder in that moment why DGI didn’t step up to help why the city wasn’t more involved in including that area in an expansion with DGI opposed to making that the outcasted poor neighborhood it was a conversation maybe one day he would have with his father if they ever talked again. He turned around going back to his desk and looking at his notes before going back to Dinah.
“Things changed when Kendrick became a teen didn’t they? His first arrest record was around that time. How did he get pulled into the gang lifestyle?” Mason asked looking at her.
“I went a month without power. We ciphered power through a neighbors home Ms. Jenkins who did her best to help us. She would pray every night and my son began to get frustrated. Well one day Kendrick came home with the two thousand dollars we needed for the power to get turned back on. I questioned my son right there and I beat his ass with a broom. Pardon my language.” She laughed looking at courtroom smiling at her. Dinah spirit was broken but her humor remained. “Well he went to a corner boy name Midnight and he was the leader of the Scottswood Bois at the time. He’s dead now but it was that boy who pulled my son into the gang lifestyle.” Dinah said looking at herself. “It’s my fault. I didn’t have education or work at one of those fancy places downtown. It didn’t slow down my spirit but it haunted me because my son had to make money for me and Khalil to survive.”
Mason choked up thinking about why the people he loved like his father and his mother while she was alive, why they didn’t help in some way anyway. Why they attended rich parties at DGI with the Devonshire’s why they cut them off from that side of their heritage. It was in that moment he got Jamal wanting a taste of what they never had. He then thought of Devin who started down that road and his uncle promptly putting an end to it moving the family away from the gangs where he could go to the local high school. He knew what he had to ask next and looked at her again.
“I don’t think anyone in this courtroom is judging you Ms. Watkins none of this is your fault.” Mason said softly to reassure her and he nodded over at Braden who concurred. He handed her a box of tissues knowing the next questions would hurt the most. “After Kendrick got involved in that lifestyle would you say he changed when you did see him? You moved out of the Scottswood neighborhood and into the Woodland Hills neighborhood when Khalil was accepted to AFP where you paid for the tuition in full with cash is that correct?”
She knew it was coming and smiled nodding her head at Mason. “I paid every penny with Kendrick’s dirty money. You know he played basketball just like Khalil but he was better. My baby could have been Michael Jordan part two and now Khalil is like that Stephen Curry boy. I continue to use money to pay for my kids because honestly I want them to have what I never had. A chance to never wipe a white ass no offense because I don’t want them to be me, I want them to be better. Seeing Khalil’s picture on billboards for the school and all over the city it makes me proud. I did the right thing even if I sacrificed my eldest child to get it.”
Mason knew the next part of him would sound cold as ice but he had to ask it for the sake of the case how she could have taken the money that was soaked in blood from the people Kendrick terrorized, the money that came from the very problem in her neighborhood she seemed love back then. “Your son had blood on his hands we’ve established that today the money he gave you was saturated in it. Yet you never once told him to stop? In all the years not even you his own mother couldn’t break down what he had become. On the day of the kidnappings while he had Yasmine tied and gagged held hostage in a car with him at the local Scottswood gym. You posed for a picture with him for his basketball charity event watched as he gave his twenty thousand dollars to the center knowing it was soaked in blood. Your son mentioned your family is close with Yasmine, why didn’t you ask why she wasn’t there?”
“Young man, I read a report on your brother Jamal. None of you knew he was living a double life right? So what I’m saying is could you stop him? Hell you couldn’t stop him from hatching a plan to get himself out of the mess he already dug himself in. As a mother I bitched, nagged, and cried but Kendrick wasn’t leaving that life. He had found his home in the madness of bullets, drugs, and violence. I never questioned why Yasmine didn’t come around because she dated my son Khalil. They broke up after high school and I felt honestly that Yasmine didn’t want to be around. When I found out she was stripping well my heart broke. Yasmine and Khalil’s breakup was young love falling apart. That innocent love you know? I just thought she couldn’t be around Khalil.” Dinah tried to keep honest and calm.
“Do you know who did care enough to ask where Yasmine was and what happened to her? Do you know who cared enough about her to take initiative once he knew your son had kidnapped her to bring her home safely. The man across from you in court. Someone she never even met.” Mason said sadly looking at Dinah with all the sympathy in the world as he turned to the judge with tears in his eyes. “No more questions your honor.”
Judge Adani looked at Mason and at Ms. Watkins her own tears springing to her eyes she nodded her at at Mason and then looked at Elliot. “Your witness Mr. Duval.”
Elliot stood up and was about to say no further questions for the witness. He couldn’t though because he had fought this long and he wasn’t to give up. He couldn’t after all he just drug these people through. “Ms. Watkins I will make this brief as possible. The one question Mr. Delacroix never asked was one that stood out to me. You are single mother of four kids. Kendrick and Khalil have the same father but the younger set Kelandra and Kallen don’t have the same father. Tell me what happened to Kendrick and Khalil father.”
Dinah started to weep in open court unable to hold it back. She didn’t know how to say what happened to her husband. Well he was dead that was for sure 1995 she buried him and finally moved on from what happened to him and her. When she regained herself she smiled again because the man didn’t know he hit a very sore spot. “Well when men came back from Vietnam they weren’t the same. My husband was a decorated veteran in the Vietnam war. You see I’m so proud of Mr. Harrison for taking advantage of the VA and that they even have system for vets who are going through something. My husband saved four men and came back home with a purple heart. When the eighties hit my husband got sucked into the crack epidemic and he never recovered from his first hit. He loved a blunt of weed but it transformed from crack to shooting up. He would leave for months at a time and return home in worse shape. It was the 90’s and God knows what happened he got a bad batch of crack or heroin. All I know is my husband never recovered from Vietnam and he never got better and he never found his way home. He never got better because of that war that he shouldn’t have been fighting. He was a good man and it kills me to say but Kendrick wouldn’t have had to sell drugs if my husband wasn’t drafted.”
Elliot exhaled as he felt like he had been punched in the gut. He couldn’t breathe at that moment he looked at Mason and Braden. Both men looked equally shocked at what Dinah had just said and they were shocked as he was. So they didn’t know that little detail either.
“I have no more question for Ms. Watkins thank you very much for your time.” Elliot said looking at the table daring them to redirect. He would viciously eat them alive. That woman needed her peace and he honestly felt like he exploited a families pain now more than ever.
“Would you like to redirect Mr. Delacroix?” Judge Adani asked wanting to make sure everything was said before they gave closing statements.
Mason looked over at Braden who was in shock as well he looked down at this notebook and back over at Braden. He stopped however when he saw Jon pick up the pen and write one simple word on it. He looked at Jon seeing the pain in his eyes, at the judge and then Ms. Watkins. “No your honor.”
Judge Roya Adani had heard the final statements of both Mason Delacroix and Elliot Duvall. The men were passionate about this case and both had made valid points. Her mind shifted through the testimonies today. The first was a young woman who wanted the bury her past so deep she wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to find it. The second was from a troubled woman who was deeply affected by Kendrick actions. The fear she heard in that girl voice killed her. Then a spitfire who seemed to understand that she wasn’t safe around Kendrick. A broken brother who snapped badly enough that it broke her heart. A young man who felt extreme guilt about the situation when at the end of the day it seemed Kendrick was going down that pain regardless. She was sure she was going to rule in the favor of Jon Harrison but it was his testimony that got her. He was a hero and the foolish relations in America had turned him into the villain. Hearing Dinah story about how she let Kendrick become the man he was. How she was to blame that killed her as a mother she knew that pain well. Sometimes you want to protect your children even in death she didn’t want to blame her son.
As she walked back out she watched everyone standing as she walked to her seat. Sitting down and everyone followed suit after the bailiff announced it. “In these trying time we lost a very progressive president in Barack Obama and now have a very complex president in Donald Trump. Tax write offs are more important than people in this climate and that’s the truth. The African-American community have been going through a second civil rights movement with the shooting of Trayvon Martin, it birthed blacklivesmatter. A person of color has to deal with so much and as a Iranian woman I know the pain of that movement. Systematic racism is a painful thing to face as a child and adult. To know that no matter how good you are someone can come and stomp you out and kill you because your skin. It’s painful and could consume you.” Judge Adani looked at Jon and took a moment.
“The two men who were the topic of conversation were not much different. Jon killed for America and honestly at one point maybe Kendrick killed to eat and feed a family. A family that deserved to eat just like the rest of us. Jon was a leader and so was Kendrick two very charismatic men who went about change in different ways. Where Jon went away to the military and tried his hardest to change the world. Kendrick fought for a projects and it wasn’t a good thing. He did some heinous things and he made horrible choices. Yet two different men begat two different circumstances. Jon came home and sought help to change himself into the man we see before him. Kendrick never found the need to seek help and transform himself. He grew to live off the violence and pain that his life had been accustomed too. Not only that finding out that Mr. Watkins was a Vietnam veteran and that drugs took away a man from his family. A war and drugs stole a man and started a tragic chain reaction.” Judge Adani looked at Ms. Watkins and Jon both.
“I don’t think you are a racist Mr. Harrison and I don’t believe that you purposely shot Mr. Kendrick Watkins. You were doing your job and I have to say Danielle Fraiser is pregnant at seven months with twins. Yasmine Kohl has opened a dance studio for the underprivileged of the Scottswood area. These two women discredit the lawsuit simply because they are alive to share the story of what happened to them. May we all be strong with this because no one wants riots anymore and no one want the pain of what happened to Kendrick to live on. Take a look around everyone black and white, man and woman, police and thug we are all people. We all don’t want to face the ugliness outside of our homes and warm comfort of our beds. I am dismissing the lawsuit and fully hoping to reinstate Jon Harrison as a police detective. This isn’t to say that the pain of a community neighborhood is to be ignored. I’m standing to say that no one in our great city of Atlas Falls should feel like they can’t eat, they can’t have power, and they can’t provide. This should be a call to action for all of us. This should be a wake up call this isn’t just Kendrick fault it’s all of ours. The wealth and prosperity isn’t just for white or the elites of the world it’s for us all. We deserve to show the country that we can do better.” Judge Adani said as she looked at them all.
“I’m sorry one mother to another that Kendrick is dead. I can’t change that and I don’t think anyone won today. There are no winners because people in Scottswood will never forget him. I think that your son legacy lives on in Khalil, Kelandra, and Kallen. Your children who are going to go into the world Ms. Watkins and change everything. They are going to show everyone and I have to say truth is we all need each other. I’m begging no more riots, no more killing, and no more persecution of a man who did his job. The innocents are fading and I’m here to say no more. No more. Black lives matter but this isn’t the case to latch onto too. This was a case of a police officer who did what he had to do to protect two women.” Judge Adani slammed her gavel down. “Court is dismissed.”
Jon sat silent for a second completely shocked that Judge Adani had dismissed the lawsuit and planned on getting him completely reinstated. He stood up and grabbed ahold of Mason and hugged him tightly. He didn’t know what to say because he couldn’t believe he unleashed in open court like that. Jon had been dragging that secret around for years. Cassie didn’t know and he wasn’t sure how she’d feel after knowing he was tortured by Al Qaeda and he killed a child. How was he going to explain all that too her? Would she still love him after knowing the darkness that dwelled inside of him. Sometimes he felt like his entire existence was to dance with the devil but today the other angel must have won. He hugged Mason so tightly as he began to cry softly into the other man shoulder.
“I don’t know how to thank-you. You’ve been called a uncle tom by people and talked down about Mason. I’ve heard them even come after you because you came out recently. Some of the hurtful things they said to you man. You don’t deserve it because you are more brave than most of the men I’ve ever served with and on that force. Thank-you so much.” He turned to his brother from another mother. “Braden man you, I have no words but thank-you so much.”
Mason didn’t know he had been holding in his breath until the gavel banged down rendering the case dismissed meaning Jon had won. He had won and cleared a good cops name and while he looked sadly over at the anguish on Khalil’s face and saw Ms. Watkins crying it was Elliot’s reaction that was the most puzzling, one of perhaps introspect he turned to Jon as they all stood people congratulating them and hugged Jon back when he latched onto him. At first he wasn’t even sure he wanted to take the case but knew it was the right thing to do the moment Robert and June Harrison had called to arrange legal council and what he was used to business law and frivolous small claims court had swept him up and almost consumed him. Even in the midst of Braden divorcing Selina he stepped up putting in hours outside of his work at DA to help him prep for a civil lawsuit of this proportion. He learned so much more about Jon over the course of those months.
“Go back to doing what you love at the police force I think is thank you enough and maybe lifelong desserts at the bakery. Everything I’ve went through was worth it Jon for this moment.” Mason said looking at him and nodding not realizing he was crying too. He saw Braden hug Dani, let her hug Jon and nodded his head at her as she left the courtroom. His eyes scanned the crowd for his sister wondering if she would even approach them before he turned back to Jon. “I knew this was the right thing to do the moment I heard the news and your parents called to get you counsel.”
Braden had waited he knew Judge Adani was fair from past experience but the truth was Elliot was a damn good attorney he knew that from college where they had competed in debate and various classes. If he had not of been DA he would have taken Jon on as a client no questions asked so when Jon had mentioned that he hired Mason. He put aside whatever he was feeling with Selina to help Mason with what would be considered his first big case, he knew how that felt first hand when he had his first one as ADA. It was long and tedious but he also knew it was so Jon would have the best defense that he could. They were brothers from another mother, there wasn’t a childhood memory that he had that didn’t involve Jon and his family. Not only that his sister was alive and he owed Jon that debt for bringing her safely home like he said he would.
“You don’t owe me anything you know that. You brought Dani home and that was all that mattered to me and my parents. The people that love her even if that includes you know.” Braden said hugging him and then pulling back and he saw Mason looking in the crowd he saw her eyes for a moment and he already knew who the man she was with was. Instead he turned back to his childhood best friend and Mason. “I told you he was good he just needed the push and a bit of guidance. You were in capable hands with Mason all along.”
“I didn’t have any doubts.” Jon said patting his back. As he froze as he saw her walking toward him. Ms. Watkins was stunning older woman whose dark skin looked like fresh silk woven on her body. However the pain on her face was obvious. She wanted someone to pay for her son death and he knew that it was him. He didn’t know what to say to her and he wasn’t sure why she was approaching them. Was she going to slap the hell out of him? Snap on Braden? What did she need. “Ms. Watkins I want to reiterate what Judge Adani said. I’m so sorry that this all is happening. I wish Kendrick could see how many people he is affecting.” Jon said honestly. “I think she was right about us being very similar…” Jon said just as he watched her face change.
Dinah raised her hand to stop him she felt him about to go on a tangent because he didn’t know why she was here. “I have spent the last few months pushing my hate onto you. I sued you because I needed someone to blame Mr. Harrison. I see that it may have been extreme because I kept one of the good cops off the street. I hated you so much because my blood wasn’t yours to take. I brought that boy into the world and honestly I should have taken him out. His father loved him so much and sadly he didn’t know how much he would have hated the lifestyle he had. I didn’t tell the boys that their dad overdosed on purpose. It was so many different drugs in his system. Never have I imagined that I would be here saying this to you Jon. I can’t hate you. I can’t hate you if I am to move on I have to forgive and let this go. To live my life I have to forgive you.” Dinah said honestly as she looked at Jon wiping her eyes. “I forgive you.”
Jon listened as he started to cry gripping the desk. He didn’t know what to say this woman had forgiven him for killing her son. He couldn’t control the tears. Just as he felt someone holding him.
“It’s okay baby God does things for a reason and maybe it was his time after he had ended so many other lives. Maybe it was time for his judgement. God makes no mistakes understand me? You have been through enough and I don’t want to put you through a damn thing else. Amen alright? I can’t live with hating you after you saved Yasmine and that girl Dani.” She wrapped her arms around him holding him as he weeped.
Yasmine turned to Miranda and walked up and hugged her. “I know you have a pretty amazing brother. I didn’t know he went through all that shit in Iraq.” She commented looking at Khalil who seemed to still be in shock. “Baby either way it’s over.” Using her index finger she picked up his face by lifting his chin.
Braden moved to the side as Ms. Watkins approached Jon and let them have their moment as he shook Mason’s hand before making his way out of the courtroom. He had other cases to prepare for and needed to pick Dylan up from school. He avoided Selina when he spotted her in the hallway today wasn’t the time or the place.
Mason watched Braden go and then shook Robert and June’s hands he received a hug from Cassie and Miranda and spotted Jamal in the back. He picked up his briefcase as he made his way outside the courtroom going to his brother and giving him a hug before they left to wait in the hallway giving both families privacy.
Miranda watched her parents rejoice in those moments beamed with pride as she had watched Devin wrap his arms around Jon and her brother be declared justified. It had been plaguing her mind for months how today would go and when Ms. Watkins had approached them she felt more tears falling as she watched the humanity in that moment. When Yasmine hugged her she nodded her head at her. “I didn’t know her story either. Look at you making the world a better place with what you are doing now.” Miranda said smiling at her and then she did the only thing she knew the only way she had been raised by pulling Khalil to her and hugging him too.
Khalil had followed his mother over to the other side of the courtroom he hated to verdict or maybe he didn’t the news about his father had shocked him. Kendrick had never even mentioned that to him, his mother had never told him. Now that he knew he felt like shit for everything and he looked at Elliot and wondered if he had made the right call when the man had called his mother asking to meet after it happened. He remembered his own words and actions the day the riot broke out and felt shame. He never expected Jon Harrison’s sister to reach out and wrap her arms around him though in understanding.
Cassie had stood back and let Jon feel the weight lift off of him he never talked about those scars on his body in the time they’d been together and she never had pushed. She knew why now and she hoped he didn’t think it felt any different for her. War did things to people she understood that and she watched as Dinah and Jon hugged and then looked over at Miranda hugging both Yasmine and Khalil. She saw the text on her phone from one of her reporters outside a crowd was again gathering. “They’re gathering outside again. Do you want me to go ahead and get the car around the back?”
“You go do that. As Dani said many times Jon used to have better taste.” Her eyes dragged down Cassie body and back up staring her down. That bitch used to look her nose down at every dancer and the way she acted on the stand she should have been arrested for perjury because everyone knew those cops were racist. She felt Miranda pinch her and she shot her a dirty look. “Oh please you don’t like her hell the entire Harrison family is wondering what that man is doing with that pretentious bitch. Come on Khalil and Ms. Watkins you ready?” Yasmine gave Cassie a look daring her to say something. She wanted to slap someone today and let out some more emotions. Her bougie ass face would be just want she wanted to unleash on.
Jon folded his lips in as he nodded at Ms. Watkins. As he pulled out a card from his wallet. “If you need anything and I do mean anything please don’t hesitate to call me. I’m here for the Watkins family forever after this. Once again I’m so sorry for your loss and I pray we call can move on from this.” He grabbed Cassie and smirked. “You know Yasmine opinion isn’t my families. What in the hell did you do to that girl. I’m going to leave with Cass and I just want to thank you all. I want to rest after this and please tomorrow we will celebrate as a family. My life is back to normal. Hey Khalil, and Ms. Watkins we are having a dinner you all are more than invited.”
Elliot sneered watching the sappy ass scene as he packed up his briefcase. “This some bullshit.” He didn’t lose and he wasn’t happy that he lost at all. Sitting down on the table he went over his notes wondering where he failed at proving his point. Jon wasn’t a bad guy clearly but he was also the reason this man was off the street. “I think I’m going to be sick.” Elliot said storming out of the courtroom toward the bathroom.
He splashed water on his face. He wondered how the fact that he loss would affect his future. Losing was something he didn’t like and even more so to Braden Fraiser. They had been in law school together and they always used to either end in a draw during debate. It was back and forth in mock trials but he didn’t like Braden got one over him. At least it was a brother who fucking took him down. His father beat the mantra into his head. Slapping the sink in a rage he huffed .”You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.” He mumbled to himself. It was a phrase made famous by President Obama but it had be searing through the African-American community for as long as he’d been breathing. Wiping his face with a napkin he looked up and saw Mason staring at him in the mirror. Instead of showing his signature haughty smile he sneered at the man. “What in the hell are you looking at?” Elliot asked as completely furious at the man staring at him in the mirror.
“You followed me down here for what? So we can have some major epiphany and see that we are similar. Braid each other’s hair? Some pollyanna shit like that right? Ms. Watkins gave up so I supposed to feel something huh Mason? Brother you aren’t anything like me. You grew up in privilege and got the world handed to your ass. You’ll never understand the plight of Khalil and Yasmine. You’re shucking ass you a coon. Yessa massa I’ll do whatever, I’ll get the white soldier off massa.” Elliot said spewing all the venom he could to hurt Mason. “Get the fuck away from me.” Waving his hand away. “It’s black men like you who make it hard for niggas like me. I’m out here trying to protect our community. Yeah Kendrick was a fucked up individual but he did something for Scottswood. I been in plenty of projects when your rich ass been in one? Huh? Did your daddy tell you stories about how your grandparents and great-grandparents lived in something like Scottswood? You see how far you’re removed from your people? Yet you jump for the white man. When the last time you got a innocent brother off? I do it every day of my life while you out here living a lie. Man I grew up in the streets of DC. I fought for everything I had and those people in Scottswood who got that twenty thousand dollar check. The check you talked so down about. They benefited from those ill gotten gains. Gains that will put food on their table. But since your daddy a chef you always had food didn’t you? Your ass got him off and now who going to save Scottswood? Protect the historical landmarks? I was shocked to find out the Church on King Drive was a stop on the underground railroad. Hell they go through AFU. Did you know Kendrick stopped the demolition on that church? Who going to do what needs to be done to speak up for those people Mason? Who you Mason? Nah you’ll be in La Callie sipping a mai-tai after this. Kendrick gone and ain’t no recreational center and dance studio going to save it. But everyone forgiving right?” Elliot stepped in Mason face.
“Everyone hugging and shit. It’s all forgiven man these people finna gentrify that neighborhood believe that. Soon hipsters like your ass will be moving into Scottswood and the people who bled on the streets will be forced out or further in a community that will cause more violence. Just ask Chicago when they tore down the Cabrini Green Projects. Nah all ain’t forgiven and when that loose cannon does something else. I’m going to be waiting. Waiting patiently and I’m going to get that motherfucker buried underneath the jail. So you let Jon know I’m not leaving and I’m here to fight for Scottswood since Ms. Watkins and Khalil have drank the fucking kool-aid. I know the flavor too coon.” He said snapping at Mason.
He’d been called worse faggot, Uncle Tom and now coon and Mason glared at him he was so full of himself. Kendrick made choices that day he was sorry he was gone but that didn’t mean that Elliot got to blame a white cop that was doing his damn job for the choices that Kendrick made. He knew there were dirty cops the world was full of them but Jon wasn’t one and neither was Devin. He felt for Dwan the kid they talked about in court he knew the cops that did that shit were dirty as hell that didn’t mean that Kendrick was forgiven by him though. Kendrick’s reign of terror started years ago when he began working for Ronan moving his way up as the enforcer for Ronan the only reason they don’t go there in court because the Feds wanted him more. Kendrick killed in cold blood and he wondered if Elliot just turned a blind eye to that showing his own prejudices it was fine for Kendrick to murder young boys in the projects but heaven forbid a white man did his job. He shook his head at him.
“You don’t know me or what my family is like. That pariah you’re worshiping threatened to kill my brother likely would have had my ass killed along with my family. You wanna know the truth about Kendrick? You can’t handle the truth about who he was, who he worked for and the lives he destroyed because if you did you never would have preyed on a grieving mother trying to make a cold blooded murder the next Trayvon.” Mason said looking at him dead in the eyes he felt for the plight of the Scottswood neighborhood his brothers and sisters on that side but the way Elliot went about it was wrong. He tried to pin premeditated murder on a cop who was doing his job. There was no honor in that. “So go ahead call me missta and coon all you want I don’t care. Watching your ass get embarrassed in court by me and Braden because you couldn’t pull your blinders off if they hit you upside the head was worth everything. Jon is a good cop and good detective who would take a bullet for your pretentious ass if you ever needed his help. Next time find a cop that is actually dirty maybe you’d make strides.”
“Strides?” Elliot laughed when he said it. “Boy don’t say Trayvon name when you have done nothing to show your support to your very own community. I’m here because I wanted to help Ms. Watkins and if you simply think this was all about money, power, and fame. I find it hard to breathe when I watch Atlas Falls burning to the ground. Or have you forgotten the riots? I did not get embarrassed I lost know the difference because when we meet again. I assure you Mason we will meet again I’m going to tear you apart. Know that you made a enemy in the courtroom today and since you want to put on your big boy pants. You never questioned until today why your brother did it. Oh I saw the look on your face when he said that he did to know the other side of the black culture. You felt that shit didn’t you. You don’t have a connection to the black culture and that must just make you feel like what? You are inclusive alllivesmatter right? When tomorrow another Trayvon, Philando, Sandra, Eric, Tamir, and Michael will happen again in this town. Mark my words because of white people who are afraid of the greatness that is you and I. We bleed magic and the worse part is your goofy ass father didn’t teach you boys that.” Elliot nodded his head as he looked at Mason.
“You think I worship Kendrick. Here’s a secret I despise everything that man is. He’s weak and pathetic what he did disgusted me. Yet I would be remiss to not try and finally nail one of those good old boys in the blue to a wall. OJ Simpson is the only guilty nigga I ever seen walk free. You know why I reached out to Dinah and Khalil? I wanted to win one for those people I just named. So what he was a criminal sometimes our community just need a win. Ill gotten or not. We need a win to say maybe someone is fighting for us. How many bodies are you going to watch on the news and sit back and wonder what to do? So I did something because my mother was murdered by a cop. So I have no sympathy for the good old boys in blue Mason. I have not sympathy for Jon and his plight in Iraq. It’s sad but for our entire lives we have had to fight twice as hard as them to get half of what they have. It’s a shame you just don’t see it.” Picking up his briefcase he adjusted his tie and ran his hands down his suit. To knock out the wrinkles as he looked up. “Baby boy let me show you what I do. That loss you thought I just had let me show you how a spin doctor changes the narrative. You will never be nothing but Braden coached lackey.” Walking out of the bathroom he felt a sense of power after attacking Mason.
“Nail one of those boys in blue? Did you even hear yourself? So we’re supposed to just forget right and wrong so you can make an example of an innocent man? There is no justice in that for black lives matter or the people in Scottswood. There is no justice in that period that’s corruption the very corruption you hate and despise. I get why Jamal went down the road he did. I am privileged I’ve never denied that.” Mason said looking at him he wanted to hate the entire police department over what happened to his mother he could that was his right. Honestly though he felt sad for Elliot if anything else. “I pity you that you can’t see the other side because of your blind hatred because one bad apple killed your mother. That is the saddest part right there you were going to let a good man, a good cop be your scapegoat. Thank god justice was served today.”
“You wanna fight and take up a cause find a better way to do it. How do you even sleep at night the way you go about it? Braden gave you a beat down and I ain’t no bodies lackey. Never have been you wanna know why I took this case?” Mason asked leaning in and looking at him wanting to wipe that smug ass look off his face. He thought back to all his times in college or hell places in general where he had been judged and watched as Zach came into the bathroom to check on him. “Because my parents raised me right and when I do send a cop to prison for murder or punish one of them for hurting one of our brothers I’m going to make damn fucking sure that asshole is guilty as sin and I can prove it without a shadow of a doubt. Your way is not the way to do it period. Look forward to seeing you on court down the line though. Go ahead and go spin that narrative everyone in that courtroom knows what happened today and that is all I care about.”
Zach grabbed a hold of Mason he looked like was ready to deck Elliot. The guy was obnoxious to a fault as he walked around them. Exiting the bathroom he felt that Mason just needed him and a hug. “Calm down that was really intense. Are you alright? You did great baby you know Jon was innocent and he’s just a blow hard.”
Elliot was ready for the media and maybe Mason had a bit of truth to what he was saying but he wasn’t budging. Sometimes the community needed a win and the system had been used to lock away so many black men that why did it matter of Jon went away? Turning around he saw Zach and Mason walking out holding hands. Just as he went through the metal detectors gunshots reigned out. He heard four loud pops and he ducked down. He saw others following suit as he began to hear screaming of people. He kept hearing someone say you shot him. Elliot walked out of the courthouse and saw a police officer standing over a young man body. A young black man body. Closing his eyes tears began to pool as he looked back at Mason.
“No matter if you have a white boyfriend, your Ivy league education, and even if you are in a Benz you still a nigger in a coupe.” Shaking his head he walked around the little boy who was clearly dead. He saw the people flipping out and the police trying to control the scene. Elliot turned back to see Mason holding onto a pillar.
Mason had left the bathroom with Zach ignoring the hateful comment about he and Zach love he knew was able to see past color. See past class or heck even religion maybe one day Elliot would see that when they turned the corner and he heard the shots he ducked when Zach threw him to the ground. The chaos erupted and he saw the boy on the steps bullet in him his eyes staring back at him. He grabbed the pillar and looked over as Zach rushed to crowd control and then he beamed in pride. Watch Zach do the right thing and take the young cop who was probably in his twenties into custody. That was a case he could get behind but if Elliot got to him first that would be the cop he would put away that would be the cop he would go after. He looked at Elliot casting him a glance of understanding as he watched the scene unfold.