Ameera Steward The Birmingham Times
At age 17, Birmingham-native Rashad Grimes faced a capital murder charge in the slaying of another person in his Ensley neighborhood. At the time, Grimes—a 24-year-old student at the Samford University Cumberland School of Law and thriving entrepreneur—was a Jackson-Olin High School senior preparing to graduate and looking forward to the future.
Here’s what he remembered about the April 2012 incident: Grimes and four of his friends had gone to a party. As they were walking home, a male in the area “was … harassing us, like, asking, ‘What are you doing in this neighborhood?’ We left and tried to avoid [him].”
The male returned in a car, hanging a gun out of the window. He confronted Grimes and his friends on “a territory thing.”
Grimes said, “You got some people from Ensley, some people from Central Park. So, I guess the guy was like, ‘Are y’all from [Ensley]?’ “One of my friends shot the guy in self-defense.”
Initially, police attempted to charge Grimes and the other teens with capital murder. They were arrested, taken to jail for 48 hours, and then released.
“It was an eye-opener,” Grimes said. “To be 17, it was … a traumatizing type of thing, … knowing how things can really turn upside in a matter of seconds, … just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We were just … kids.”
Grimes said the incident could have had an adverse impact on his life, but “from that point forward, I made it a point to move forward.”
He acknowledges that the incident may be one reason he chose to attend law school: “I definitely took that and … allowed it to be an inspiration. Even if I choose not to go into [the] criminal aspect of law, I can definitely still be an advocate because I’m trying to become a lawyer now.”
Grimes said the 2012 incident also taught him the importance of having a good attorney.
“In the African-American community, a lot of people aren’t necessarily guilty; they just don’t have the proper representation,” he said. “That’s what happened to me. … If we hadn’t had proper representation, [our situation] could’ve gone the total opposite way.”