Why would a black teenager run from deputies? (Part 2)

Why did Clarence “CJ” Lake 3rd run from deputies investigating a car burglary at a West Orange County apartment complex last summer?

The encounter ended with CJ, age 18, drowned in Lake Sherwood, near the intersection of Good Homes Road and State Road 50.

The reason CJ fled on foot was included in the report of an interview detectives conducted with CJ’s mother before his body was found and recovered on June 24, 2017. At the time of the interview, deputies thought there was a chance CJ climbed out of the lake in the dark and eluded them, according to the police report.

Cadillya Anthony with her late son's football jersey
When Cadillya Anthony was told deputies were seeking her son as a suspect in a car burglary, a detective wrote: “At this point, Anthony stopped us and stated ‘no offense but if he (CJ) was there he would definitely run. He would be afraid to be killed by police (paraphrased).’ We advised Anthony we understood her concern.”

CJ’s fears were well-founded because he – like hundreds of other people of color throughout the United States – lost his life during an encounter with police.

Though the crime report said deputies collected evidence that tied CJ and two other youths to an auto burglary and criminal mischief at the Hawthorne Groves apartment complex, his mother, other relatives and family friends don’t believe it. The other two youngsters were quickly arrested near the scene.

Based on what’s known about CJ, crime was not his style.

CJ ran track, played football and had a 3.7-grade-point average and a knack for math.

He had no criminal record.

His Mom just bought him his first car – which he was driving that last night -- and he had money.

He came from a nice home on a quiet street. There was no reason for him to steal.

“Clarence has never seen the inside of a courthouse or a jail. He runs from trouble,” said Ms. Anthony.

After CJ’s death, Ms. Anthony received several letters from teachers praising her son. One teacher who wrote that shortly before his death CJ confided in her that he recently discouraged some acquaintances from committing a drive-by shooting.

CJ’s autopsy report showed there were no drugs in his system.

Five months after the incident, the case against another 18-year-old arrested in that same encounter was closed by the state attorney with a note reading: “This case is not suitable for prosecution.”

For Part 1, click here

Part 3: Some say CJ got ‘lynched’


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