KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- The family of a man killed in Kansas City nearly three years ago is devastated by a jury verdict issued Friday.
Earlier this month, the family of Cameron Douglas took to the courthouse steps to protest a series of delays that made them wait more than a thousand days for that verdict. They got one Friday in which the jury recommended his killer serve six years at most.
It was January of 2019 when Douglas was killed following an argument while running to the stoop of his apartment near I-435 and Eastwood Trafficway.
“As he is turning toward his stoop, that is when the fatal shot hit him in the back of the neck,” said Bishop Frank Douglas, Jr.
Faith leader Bishop Frank Douglas, Jr. is Cameron’s dad.
“We just were floored. We were devastated,” he said of their reaction when they heard the jury’s verdict.
Jason Cook, then 21, was charged with second-degree murder. But the jury had lesser charges to choose from as well. They found Cook guilty of involuntary manslaughter, a killing that’s reckless but not intentional.
“Yesterday was ridiculous,” said Cameron Douglas’ sister, Bria Douglas, on Saturday. “It was a slap in the face.”
Cameron Douglas was 23. He’d just had a baby. She’s now nearly 3 years old. Her mother, Ma’Lisha Carter, struggled for words.
“I feel disrespected. Completely,” said Carter. “What am I supposed to tell her when she says I want my daddy?”
Now they are beginning a letter writing campaign to the judge, urging him to quote “overturn the verdict” and reject the jury’s recommended sentence of no more than six years. The president of the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a prominent civil rights organization, is supporting the family in their effort.
They say 11 of the 12 jurors were white and argue that impacted how they view crime in the urban core.
“The Prosecutor looked at that white jury and they said, ‘What is a life worth?’” recounted Jaron Greathouse, Cameron Douglas’ brother. “And that’s what they felt that my brother’s life was worth.”
“We challenge every juror in this case who decided that Cameron Douglas’ life was worth six years to look in the mirror,” said Dr. Vernon Howard, the president of the SCLC Greater Kansas City Chapter. “It is unacceptable for there to be 11 white jurors and one Black juror in an urban core case involving black families.”
There has been no announcement of any formal court filing or appeal, just the letter writing campaign.
Legal experts KCTV5 checked with indicate trial judges have some leeway on sentencing but cannot overturn a verdict.
Douglas, Jr. said he knows it’s a long shot, but he had to try something.
“They might tell me tomorrow that’s not an option,” he said of the letters. “We can still send them.”
Shortly after the verdict, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker sent a statement, a portion of which reads as follows:
The family of Cameron Douglas are devastated by today’s verdict. They hoped for a murder conviction as recommended by the prosecutor and they are shocked by the recommended sentence.
"We share the disappointment of our victim's family," Baker said. "But this is our system of justice and we greatly support it even when it disappoints us. We also are proud of the way our prosecutors and staff fought for this family."