Cook County prosecutors waved, slammed and hugged a pair of black Nike Air Jordans Thursday before Tariq Harris was convicted of fatally shooting the 15-year-old grandson of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis.
“This is what you’re here for, shoes. Shoes. A life gone, for shoes,” Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Natosha Toller told jurors during her closing arguments, describing the fight over the gym shoes that led to Javon Wilson’s murder.
Roughly two hours later, those jurors found Harris guilty of first-degree murder and home invasion. Harris, who was 16 at the time of the 2017 shooting, frowned but remained otherwise impassive as the jury foreman read off the verdicts on five counts— then began crying as a woman in the gallery began sobbing. Now 18, Harris faces the prospect of a life sentence.
Prosecutors said Harris was acting as bodyguard to his then 17-year-old friend Dijae Banks when they went to the Wilson family’s Englewood apartment on a mission to retrieve the Jordans Banks had swapped with Javon’s younger brother for a pair of designer pants. A separate jury Wednesday also returned a guilty verdict against Banks, now 20.
Prosecutors said Harris and Banks forced their way into the apartment and were confronted by Javon’s older sister, Khaliyah Wilson, whom Banks had briefly dated in the weeks before the shooting. Banks pulled out a gun, set it down, and began brawling with Wilson.
Harris, who took the stand during the three-day trial, said he had been friends with Javon before the shooting. The gun went off, Harris said, as he tried to pull Banks away from Wilson as the two struggled in the living room. The bullet struck Javon in the neck, and the teen fell to the floor, choking on his own blood.
“(The shooting) hurt me, because it was my friend,” Harris testified Wednesday, speaking softly. “It wasn’t somebody in the street. It was somebody I was close to.”
On cross-examination, Toller blasted Harris, questioning why he left the apartment without trying to help his wounded friend, and waited 25 hours before he and Banks turned themselves in to police.
In her closing argument Thursday, Toller said it was unlikely that the gun had gone off accidentally.
“Isn’t it amazing the hair trigger went off the moment his partner in crime [Banks] said ‘You just gonna let them do me like this?’” Toller said.
Toller smacked the shoes on a wooden surface before stating passionately, “Stop calling what he did an accident. Stop calling what he did reckless. This ain’t no ‘Oops!’ They barged into that home and made sure to get what they wanted at any cost.”
Prosecutors were barred from mentioning that Javon was related to Davis, who is now serving his 12th term in Congress. Davis did not attend the trial. He had told the Chicago Sun-Times that while he has gone to dozens of funerals for young, black men from his district killed in gun violence, he seldom goes to trials.