The 14-year-old boy who allegedly tried to drown a Black 15-year-old who couldn’t swim in a Cape Cod pond in Chatham, Massachusetts, in July was released on bond.
John Sheeran was released to his father’s custody on Sept. 11.
NBC 10 Boston reports that Sheeran taunted the teen with racial slurs as he dunked him underwater in Goose Pond on July 19 after threatening him with a stone.
According to the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office, Sheeran and another white friend met the victim at the pond to go swimming. The victim reportedly said that he could not swim and wore a life jacket to wade in the water before Sheeran dunked him several times under the water as the other friend laughed and called the Black teen “George Floyd.” The teens also called the victim “boy” and the N-word.
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The DA’s office released a statement saying the incident was motivated by race.
“Once in the water, the juvenile defendant proceeded to pull on the victim’s life jacket and submerged him underwater 4 to 5 times, causing the victim breathing distress,” said the release. “The third juvenile laughed at the victim during the attempted drowning and referred to the victim as ‘George Floyd.’”
Witnesses told the authorities that they saw Sheeran dunking the victim and also heard his friend calling the 15-year-old “George Floyd.” Sheeran also swam underneath the victim and tried to pull him beneath the water.
The victim reported the crime two days later and revealed that after he told the boys he couldn’t breathe, his so-called friends “started laughing and called me George Floyd, obviously making fun of me and showing NO remorse.” After he cried for help, another young witness intervened and brought the teen to shore.
“When I finally get to them, they were smirking,” wrote the teen who intervened.
Sheeran was released to his father’s custody after his attorneys argued that he should be released pending his trial for attempted murder. The judge agreed and released the teen with a GPS monitor. His name was originally withheld due to his age, but because he was charged with a hate crime felony, Sheeran’s name was not redacted in court documents and subsequent reports.
The Monomoy Regional School District issued a statement on Sept. 1 regarding the incident while noting that neither Sheeran nor his accomplice were enrolled in the school district. Sheeran’s parents are divorced, and he lives in Florida but was reportedly visiting his father in Massachusetts at the time of the attempted drowning, according to WBZ News in Boston.
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“The alleged actions are incredibly concerning and stand in stark contrast to the values we hold as a school district and as a community,” said Monomoy Superintendent Scott Carpenter. “Acts of hatred and violence are unacceptable, and we condemn any behavior that seeks to harm or marginalize others based on their race, ethnicity, or any other personal attribute.”
Sheeran’s attorney, Kevin Reddington, claimed his client had no intent to hurt “his friend.”
“This young man had no intent to murder his friend,” he said. “It was just a stupid act that was carried way too far.” He also called the incident “horseplaying.”
Sheeran was indicted in August and charged with attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon. His release is contingent on him staying away from the witnesses in the case, wearing a GPS monitor and attending probation.
Read the story on Atlanta Black Star.