The Kalief Browder Story
The Story on Kalief Browder exposes the crazy reality of how a youthful man lost his life as a result of a broken legal and prison system, and happening to be in the wrong place with a backpack. The show Time: The film gives watchers an inner glance on the trial. There are three things that led to Kalief Browder’s unfortunate story.
These things include: unethical correctional officers, three unfair years on Rikers Island, and a criminally hampered prosecution. It’s absurd to believe that such a slew of dismal events could put into action the termination of a youthful black man’s life. Kalief succumbed on 6th June, 2015, at around 12:15pm. Venida Browder, his mother, narrates how she heard strange movements in the room above her, followed by loud bang that sound like of something that was being tossed out through the window.
As a result of drugs and substance abuse problems, Kalief’s mother was forced to put him up for adoption when he was just a kid. Kalief was then brought up by Venida Browder, his adoptive mother. Over the course of her life, Venida is said to have raised a total of 34 children. This children include her biological kids, adopted kids and many others that she fostered. Kalief was brought up in a caring and his school staff members described him as intelligent and fun loving.
Unfortunately, at 16 years old, he was arrested and prosecuted for grand larceny following police testification Kalief had stolen a truck belonging to a bakery for a joyride eventually crashing into an immovable vehicle. Despite the fact that Kalief pleaded culpability initially, he later alleged that he was just an onlooker. Regardless, Kalief was indicted as an adult, enlisted as a young offender, and was put on probation. It’s reasonable to conclude that if Kalief was in the first place not put on probation the events that took place later might not have materialized.
On May 15, 2010, Kalief Browder along with his ally were on their way home from a party when they met with police officers. Since Kalief had undergone and been subjected to multiple routine stop-and-frisks by police officers over the course of his life, he thought that this was what was to happen. Later, he found out that these police officers had been reacting to a 9-11 call regarding backpack that had been stolen. Robert Bautista, a Mexican immigrant had called the police to report the theft.
Kalief and his friend had no idea that Bautista was seated in a patrol car nearby scanning the face of the two black young men who were believed to have snatched a backpack belonging to his brother. The alleged robbery is said to have taken place two weeks prior to the arrest. The backpack is said to have contained a camera, an iPad touch, $700, and a credit card. Bautista recognized Kalief and his ally as the culprits, leading to their arrest.
17 hours later, Kalief was cross-examined and in the day that followed he was charged with robbery, assault, and grand larceny. He was indicted with 2nd degree robbery and given a bail amounting to $3,000. Although Kalief’s mother hustled to put together the bail amount, the fact that Kalief was on probation, he could not be released like his colleague. Kalief had not yet been sentenced when he was sent to jail in Rikers Island, a jailed renowned for extreme violence.
For a period of three years, Kalief Browder endured countless abuse at the hands of correctional officers as well as other inmates. Brendan O’ Meara, Kalief’s public defender, recalled how although Kalief used to be “quiet respectful,” each time they met he seemed “bigger and tougher.” Kalief himself recounted how he felt the necessity to get tougher shortly after entering Rikers. The most unfortunate thing is the fact that the violence did not come from inmates alone but correctional officers were also severely assaulted the inmates and threatened them with solitary confinement if they went ahead to report. Kalief was just 16 but tried as an adult.
Kalief Browder was finally released from prison on May 29, 2013. Kalief was set free in anticipation of his acquital by Bronx judge DiMango. By that time, Roberto Batista had already gone back to Mexico, hence he was not available to testify against him. Kalief had been put in prison and subject to countless assaults while his trial received unfair delays, and eventually getting dismissed.
Later, Kalief along with his brother filed a lawsuit against the New York City Police Department (NYPD) alleging malicious prosecution. In the case, they started that the court had been misled regarding the readiness of the prosecution team. Although the city of New York failed to admit the allegations another action was taken against the city by Preet Bharara for use the used of excessive and unnecessary force on young offenders in Rikers Island.
As a result, in January 2015 the City Council of New York voted unanimously to terminate the use of solitary confinement on inmates below 21 years. This decision was however made too late as young offenders such as Kalief. The psychological trauma he had already gone through were irreversible. Kalief struggled to go back to school because he wanted a better life for himself but depression overwhelmed him and in 2015 be committed suicide by hanging himself.
How can the legal system do something so terrible to a 16-year old kid? He was tried as an adult. There was no proof of him stealing the backpack. He maintained his innocence and never accepted a plea bargain. He said he would not admit to something that he did not do. The broken legal system and prison system emotionally and mentally destroyed Kalief, leaving him feeling hopeless and in a state of despair.
You can watch his story on netflix, just search for the kalief browder story