News & Politics

Suspects Arrested in Murder of 7-Year-Old Jazmine Barnes, But Questions About Media's Behavior Remain

There were important developments overnight in the murder earlier this week of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was killed last Sunday morning when someone opened fire on the car she was riding in with her mother and three sisters. Two men have been arrested in the case, and one has already been charged with capital murder.

Jazmine’s mother, LaPorsha Washington, was shot in the arm and her younger sister was wounded by shattering glass. Her two teenage sisters were unharmed.

From her hospital bed, Washington answered questions from reporters on Tuesday:

Jazmine’s murder became a national and international story as the manhunt for the suspects continued.

Overnight, Larry Woodruffe (24) and Eric Black, Jr. (20) were arrested in the case, and Black charged with capital murder. Local media reports indicate that Woodruffe is believed to be the shooter.

Police believe that the killing was a case of mistaken identity, and that Jazmine’s family had no prior contact with the suspects.

Many will be relieved at the announcement of the arrests of suspects. Prominent media and sports personalities spoke out for justice in her case, such as Grammy Award-winning singer Bruno Mars:

Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal promised to pay for Jazmine’s funeral, and Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins said that he will donate the $29,000 check from his playoff game this weekend to the family.

Hundreds of people gathered at a rally yesterday in a Walmart parking lot near where the shooting occurred, with Jazmine’s mother thanking supporters and Houston-area Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee speaking at the event.

Jazmine’s funeral will be held on Tuesday.

Sadly, some commentators tried to politicize Jazmine’s tragic murder to flame racial grievances and widen community divisions.

This was aided by information on a possible suspect, now known to be incorrect, put out by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and amplified by the media.

The initial description of the suspect was a white man with a beard. Subsequently, a sketch of a white man without a beard was distributed by the sheriff’s office.

Commentators and some media outlets hyped the racial angle to the story, including international media:

Predictably, some of the usual race-baiting grifters sought to wade into the tragedy:

Shaun King, a former “senior justice writer” at the New York Daily News, also publicly implicated others who had no connection to Jazmine’s murder:

If this sounds familiar to readers, it’s because King and his pal Lee Meritt have played this game before.

Last May, Meritt publicly claimed that one of his clients, Sherita Dixon-Cole, had been kidnapped and raped by a Texas State Trooper, and then began an active campaign to target the trooper:

King was doing media hits pushing the story hyping the racial angle to the claims.

But shortly thereafter, the Texas Department of Public Safety released the trooper’s entire body camera footage of the encounter, which clearly showed that the trooper had acted professionally and that there had been no kidnapping or rape.

Both King and Meritt then claimed that *they* were the real victims of the case:

In his article proclaiming himself the victim, King expressed no apology or remorse for targeting the innocent trooper. Understandably, he came under fire for inserting himself into the matter.

In the present case of Jazmine Barnes’ tragic murder, King is now proclaiming that he’s the hero who helped solve the case, not a racial huckster who was trying to exploit it:

King has claimed to have raised a $60,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of Jazmine Barnes’ killers.

But questions about King’s past fundraising ventures, including the mishandling of $60,000 he raised for the funeral of Tamir Rice, who had been shot by police, raise concerns about what may happen to the money raised in this instance.

It will be difficult for the family of Jazmine Barnes to find comfort following their loss, but most observers are likely to hope that the family will be able to begin to heal from the physical and emotional wounds.

But a public discussion on the ongoing role of the media in encouraging and amplifying racial hatred stirred up by grievance grifters like Shaun King should take place. That’s unlikely to happen.