Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

Indictments Handed Down in Harvard Shooting

March 16th, 2010 by Ajuan Mance


Chanequa Campbell (left) and Brittany Smith

(Source: News One)


From the Associated Press:

BOSTON — A former Harvard University student was indicted Tuesday as an accessory after the fact in the 2009 fatal shooting of a 21-year-old Cambridge man inside a Harvard dormitory.

Brittany Smith, 22, of New York City, was the girlfriend of Jabrai Jordan Copney, one of three men charged in connection with the killing of 21-year-old Justin Cosby. Cosby lived a few blocks from the Ivy League campus but was not a Harvard student.

Prosecutors allege the three men — all from New York City and none of them Harvard students — shot Cosby in a Harvard dorm in a robbery attempt during a deal to buy marijuana from him.

Copney, 20, and Blayn Jiggetts, 19, are charged with first-degree murder and other counts, while Jason Aquino, 23, is charged with being an accessory after the fact of armed robbery and carrying a firearm without a license. All three have pleaded not guilty.

Smith is accused of giving the men her Harvard electronic key card to enter the building where the shooting occurred, hiding the gun under a friend’s dorm bed and lying to authorities. She was indicted on charges of accessory after the fact of murder, illegal possession of a firearm and willfully misleading a grand jury and police.

—  from “Ex-Harvard Student Indicted in Dorm Shooting Death,” by Denise Lavoie (AP), March 16, 2010

You may recall this disturbing crime, committed last spring in the basement of a Harvard dormitory. The tragic deaths sent a shockwave through the Harvard community, but news of the killing was quickly upstaged by a different story, that of Chanequa Campbell, a Harvard senior and friend of Brittany Smith who was banned from the campus and denied her diploma along with Smith, and despite her consistent denial of any involvement in Cosby’s murder.

Although Harvard has refused to make a public statement on the fact that Campbell was not among those indicted, her attorney, Jeffrey Karp, believes that Campbell should be reinstated as a senior and receive her diploma.

Jeffrey Karp […] said Campbell remains barred from campus and has not received her degree from Harvard.

Karp said Campbell is having “considerable difficulty” finding a job because of the notoriety of the case and because of Harvard’s decision not to give her a diploma.

“I assume the investigation is over, and it seems to me that the fair thing for Harvard to do is to give her a diploma and allow her to graduate,” Karp said.

I sincerely hope that these indictments mean that Campbell has been discovered to have no involvement in this crime. If she is indeed cleared of any responsibility for the crime last spring, then Harvard owes her an apology and a diploma.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

  1. Villager

    I think that just as many people in our community are shot down by ‘character’ lapses as by bullets. We need to reinforce the importance of character … doing the right thing even when nobody is looking … with our young people so that things like this Harvard incident don’t occur in the future.

    peace, Villager

  2. Black on Campus

    I think you are absolutely correct, Villager. This case — or at least as it is alleged to have transpired — hinges on character.

    The question for me is not so much why this young woman gave her hard key to her boyfriend and his friend. College students do this kind of thing all the time. The question is, why was she willing to hide the gun for these young men? Wouldn’t a young person of character turn them in?