About 500 students will graduate this weekend from Atlanta's prestigious Morehouse College. One person who won't be there is Rashad Johnson, shot three times by a fellow student. But the shooter will receive his diploma -- part of a plea deal that spared him up to 20 years in prison.
Joshua Brandon Norris faced one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a second count for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. But in a court hearing in January, he was presented with what the judge described as "the break of your life."
It's hard to understand the college's thinking here, which naturally they won't comment on. I would think that quietly dismissing Norris would have been the best way to avoid criticism, so I don't see their actions as an attempt to protect the college. Yet, it's a bit difficult to understand not only the prosecutor's decision to accept such a plea but the school's decision to support Joshua Norris.
I find the story puzzling to say the least, unless of course, the judge, prosecutor and school know more than we do about it. In fact that's the only explanation I can think of.
The incident began at a Halloween party in 2007 at an Atlanta club, where Morehouse college kids had gathered for a bash. The club owner said he saw Norris causing trouble, and a bouncer threw him out the front door.
Minutes later, the people in the club heard gunshots and everyone hit the floor. The club owner said the shooter was the man he saw kicked out.
Johnson told CNN that there was an altercation outside the club and that he exchanged words with Norris. He said he didn't think much of it, and he began walking to his car when Norris pulled up in his Hummer, got out of the vehicle and pointed a gun at his head.
"When he put the gun to my head, all I could think about was I'm not going to let this kid take me away from my mom, especially with what she's dealing with right now," Johnson said.
He said he grabbed Norris' wrist and pulled his arm down when shots rang out. "I felt the sharpest burning sensation when the first bullet hit my leg. It actually made my leg buckle," he said.
On the It's My Mind blog there is indeed more to the story, but it's not good. Joshua Norris is described as an arrogant rich kid who acts as if he's above the law. Other incidents of gun play and brutality are described, which have been covered up and all but buried.
So what do you think? Given the basic facts of the story, is there a way to understand the legal and academic decisions in this case? Do you think there's more to the story than has been reported? Assuming the part about having a gun with him while driving the Hummer is true, is that legal in Georgia? Would such a thing be legal in another state, New Jersey, for example?
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.