Killer of 14-Year-Old at Bus Stop Gets Life
Clive Jackson Jr. was just 14, but he already had big plans.
The week before he was shot to death on a South Los Angeles street, the Crenshaw High School honors student had written a letter to UCLA.
“I would like to know how to get into college so that I can get ready,” he wrote. “I want to know how much are the books there so I can save up. I don’t want my mom to pay for everything.”
Clive’s killing in November 2002 became a rallying cry against gang violence in Los Angeles at a time when homicides were on the rise. William J. Bratton, who had just taken command of the Los Angeles Police Department, compared street gangs to the Mafia and declared war against them.
On Thursday, Antwaine Butler, still proclaiming his innocence, was sentenced to life in prison for the boy’s murder.
Clive’s mother, Sharon Smith, said Butler deprived her of the chance to say goodbye.
“You have caused intense pain to more people than you can possibly imagine,” she said during sentencing in Los Angeles County Superior Court. “People like you are destroying our community.”
Clive’s father, Clive Jackson Sr., said he feels like he can finally move forward.
“I buried my son dead,” he said outside court. “Now [Butler] is being buried alive. He’ll be in a coffin the rest of his life.”
Bratton said Thursday he was pleased with the outcome of the case.
“This character is not going to be out there to shoot other people,” the chief said in an interview. The sentence sends a strong message that gang crimes are taken very seriously, he added.
After the murder, the LAPD launched joint operations with state and county agencies to track down wanted gang members. Bratton also assigned more officers to gang details and strengthened relationships with the communities most affected.
“Since then, we have totally refocused the department in going after gang crimes,” he said. “And the impact of the department strategy on gangs is being felt.”
Between 2002 and 2003, gang-related homicides in Los Angeles dropped nearly 30%, from 372 to 262, Bratton said.
Clive Jackson was shot on Nov. 21, 2002, as he stood at a bus stop with three friends at the corner of Western and Vernon avenues in South Los Angeles. Butler, who police said was a gang member, approached him and started a fight, then pulled a gun and shot the teenager as he tried to flee.
As the boy lay on the ground, Butler shot him nine more times.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Alison Matsumoto said Butler deserved the lengthy prison sentence because of the “overwhelming, horrendous nature” of the case and the fact that Butler continued to shoot the victim even after he was defenseless on the ground.
Butler, 18, who punched his fist against a courtroom wall after the guilty verdict in December, remained calm during sentencing. His lawyer, Mark Werksman, said Butler was resigned to the fact that he was going to receive 50 years to life.
“Antwaine Butler’s life has now basically been cast away, and he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison,” Werksman said. He said the loss suffered by the Jackson family is incalculable, but that his client nevertheless “absolutely denies that he killed Clive Jackson.”
Werksman asked the judge to sentence Butler as a juvenile because he was 17 at the time of the crime. Superior Court Judge Judith L. Champagne denied the motion, saying the murder was an “unprovoked attack on a 14-year-old child.”
Butler’s grandmother, Lois Lesure, said Butler would never hurt anybody without a reason. “They portray him as a gangbanger, a thug, an animal,” she said. “He’s a very kind and gentle person. These boys were harassing him.”
Butler continues to deny gang membership and insists he wasn’t there during the shooting, according to court papers. Deputy Probation Officer Crystal Ingram-Nwoye wrote in a presentencing report that Butler posed a serious threat to community safety.
“The defendant has proven that he will stop at nothing to avenge his self-worth,” she wrote. “The victim in this case was a 14-year-old child, barely getting a start in life. His death did not come by accident, but was the result of the deliberate and willful actions of the defendant.”