Monday, April 15, 2024

A person who used to be in jail and supports changes to the New York City legal system got caught for committing murder

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A man who spent a long time in jail before becoming a well-known supporter for fixing the criminal justice system has been arrested and accused of a terrible crime in the Bronx.

Sheldon Johnson, 48, was taken into custody and accused of murder, manslaughter, having an illegal weapon, and hiding a dead body on Thursday, as stated by the New York Police Department.

Johnson went to court on Thursday and said he didn’t do anything wrong. He was kept in jail and will go to court again on Monday. He’s accused of shooting and killing Collin Small, 44, in Small’s apartment in the Bronx, according to what’s written in court papers.

Police went to Small’s apartment after people nearby heard gunshots on Tuesday. They heard two shots and then two more, according to someone in law enforcement.

Cops said when they got there, they found a human body without a head, arms, or legs. The medical examiner’s office will figure out how the person died, as per the NYPD.

Johnson was in Small’s apartment when cops came, someone in law enforcement told CNN. When they checked Johnson’s home in Harlem, they found a human arm, legs, and head in the freezer, with gunshot wounds, according to the same source. Video cameras also showed Johnson going into and out of the building wearing different clothes and once carrying a big blue box. The box was found at Small’s place with the body inside, another source in law enforcement said.

After spending many years in jail, Johnson got out last May and started working as a supporter for young people who might get into trouble with the law. He worked at a place called Queen Defenders, which gives free legal help to people in Queens who are accused of crimes and can’t pay for a lawyer.

Since he got out, Johnson has been talking publicly about changing the criminal justice system. Last month, he was on a podcast hosted by Joe Rogan, where he talked about his life in jail. He said he used to be in a gang called the Bloods.

In 1999, Johnson was found guilty of killing someone, robbery, and other things, according to court papers. He went to jail on June 8, 1999.

The people at Queen Defenders didn’t want to talk about Johnson when asked on Friday.

Brian Stanley, who works at a group in New York City that tries to find better ways to deal with young people who break the law, told CNN he hopes people can separate what Johnson is accused of from the good work he was doing.

“We can understand how bad and crazy this is and also look at the bigger picture and see the good effects of the work we do, even the work Mr. Johnson was doing,” he told CNN.

He also said that jails and prisons are violent places and that Johnson had only been out for less than a year. “The trauma people go through in jail — I don’t think most people understand it,” he added.

‘A result of a family history of going to jail’
Speaking on “The Joe Rogan Experience,” Johnson said he grew up in a family where many people went to jail and faced problems because they didn’t have money.

“My dad went to jail when I was young — he was there for about 15 years,” he said. “I went to jail. My granddad went to jail. My great-granddad was a slave.”

He said he was sent to a hospital for behavior problems as a kid. “That’s where I learned to be a criminal,” he said. After that, he never went back to school and started selling drugs to get by, he said.

“I had a lot of people working for me,” he said about his gang connections during the 1980s and 1990s. He also said he kept selling drugs while he was in jail. It was only after spending a lot of time in solitary confinement and getting treated badly in jail that he decided to stop doing crime, he said on the podcast.

“I decided I was going to stop and I didn’t care about what would happen,” he said. “I had been doing bad things for so long. I wanted to try doing good things.”

He got his high school diploma in jail, he said, and stopped being involved with gangs.

Johnson’s profile on LinkedIn says he helped start FICAR (Formerly Incarcerated Citizens Against Recidivism), a group that tries to stop people from going back to jail again and again.

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