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September shooting of Black Texas child stirs outrage

Cyril Josh Barker | 2/20/2014, 2:45 p.m.
8-year-old Donald “D.J.” Maiden Jr. who was shot in the face by 46-year-old Brian Cloninger

The shooting of yet another Black child is causing reaction and outrage, this time in Texas, where a white man is behind bars after shooting an 8-year-old in the face at his apartment complex as the child was playing tag.

The situation involves 46-year-old Brian Cloninger, who shot 8-year-old Donald “D.J.” Maiden Jr. with a shotgun last September. Maiden received several injures to his face and survived the shooting. Reports indicate that the police have discerned no motive in the shooting; however, local Black leaders and clergy believe race played factor.

Cloninger is charged with injury of a child, a felony, and faces life in prison if convicted.

“We don’t have any evidence to support any semblance of a hate crime. Until we are able to do a full conversation, interview with this child, we won’t know any of the real details only this child will know,” said Dallas Police Chief David Brown.“We’re going as slowly as we need to until this child is able to be comfortable talking with us because of the delicate nature of what happened to him.”

In one report, Dallas City Councilman Larry Friedman said Donald’s injuries were so severe that he’s ashamed to go out in public. Family members report that Donald will require several surgeries to his face and jaw and has to use a voice box to communicate.

“D.J.’s life will never be the same,” he said. “He says he looks like a monster and he doesn’t want the other kids to see his face.”

Cloninger’s bond was originally set at $2.2 million; however, his bond was reduced twice to $500,000. A judge said if his family is able to raise the money to release him, he must adhere to several conditions, including wearing an electronic leg monitor and a sober link monitor. He must also turn over his passport, follow a curfew and have no contact with children under the age of 17.

Activists in the area believe the shooting is a hate crime and think that the U.S. Justice Department should step into the case. Dallas civil rights activists Roy Williams and Travis Wortham Jr. said at a press conference that race was a factor in the shooting

“I certainly understand that this child’s family is upset, and they are seeking justice,” Hudson said. “But for something to be prosecuted as a hate crime, it has to be racially motivated, and based on what I know about this case so far, that isn’t the case.”

“We have a couple of different accounts of what occurred. We are still looking for witnesses—anyone to come forward,” Scott said. “It really is a tragic situation, and we’re trying to make sure we do everything we can to determine what actually happened.”