Saturday, October 12, 2002

A broken promise

Thomas' son needs more from uncle

Timothy Thomas' brother is one lucky guy.

But, he is not a man of his word.

A grand jury decided not to indict him on a drug charge this week.

But, he's decided not to do the right thing for a little kid who needs his help.

Seventeen months ago, on April 9, 2001, Terry Thomas sat in City Hall's crowded council chambers. While adults shouted, the teenager prayed.

Lifting his eyes, Terry talked with me about his brother, shot to death two days earlier by policeman Stephen Roach.

Hours later, riots tore Cincinnati apart. A boycott followed as well as a landmark negotiated settlement. Peace still proves elusive.

But on that April day in 2001, Terry Thomas told me he knew what he had to do.

He had to step up. Be a man.

“It's my turn,” he said, “to be a big brother to his little son.”

Timothy Thomas left behind an infant son. Tywon was 3 months old when his father died. Now, he's close to his 2nd birthday.

His Uncle Terry — once so wise beyond his years and full of promise — is in trouble with the law.

On Sept. 26, Cincinnati Police stopped a brown-and-silver minivan.

Eighteen-year-old Terry Thomas sat behind the wheel. Police officers say the vehicle contained three guns, 500-plus rounds of ammunition and nearly 13 grams of crack cocaine.

Also in the minivan was 24-year-old Deangelo Williams. He has a record for selling drugs.

Considering what happened to his brother, you'd think Terry Thomas would know better.

He was not keeping his word about being a big brother to his little nephew. He seemed so determined to do so that day at City Hall. He would set a good example. No doubt.

Instead of driving that van, he should have been trying to make something of himself. Something good. He should have been home studying. Thursday night's a school night.

Instead, Terry was acting like a knucklehead.

He didn't have the good sense to stay away from a guy with a nose for trouble and refrain from driving a van police say was armed to the teeth and stocked with dope.

Other responsibilities

Terry Thomas still faces two misdemeanor weapons charges. He is innocent until proven guilty of these charges.

But he already stands convicted of foolishly putting himself in harm's way.

Didn't he learn anything from his brother's death?

This 18-year-old had more important things to do than hang out with the wrong crowd.

He had a promise to keep. His little nephew needs him. You can't help anyone by getting arrested and posing for a police mug shot.

Honest man

Terry Thomas' plight reminded me of another scene from that April day in 2001 at City Hall.

His mother, Angela Leisure, held his hand and wondered if he might be killed someday by the police over a traffic ticket.

She is a very articulate woman. She has lost one child. She certainly doesn't want to lose another.

Maybe this time, she'll get lucky. Maybe he'll be cleared of all charges. Maybe he can get a second chance. Maybe this time, he'll make the most of it.

Frankly, I have a tough time working up much sympathy for Terry Thomas. He knows right from wrong. At least he did in April of 2001.

The person I feel sorry for is little Tywon.

He deserves a good life. He needs adults who can teach him not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people.

He needs all the help he can get. He needs someone in his life who can keep his word.

Call Cliff Radel at 768-8379; or e-mail

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