Thousands have reacted to reports of a black teenager being allegedly murdered for listening to rap music in Arizona, with the hashtag #JusticeForElijah trending on Twitter.
Michael Adams, 27, has been charged with the first-degree murder of 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin. The teenager died from his injuries after his throat was slit at around 1:42 a.m. at a Circle K store in Peoria on July 4.
According to court documents, seen by AZ Central, Adams told police that he decided to kill the teenager because he was playing rap music in his vehicle, which made him feel unsafe.
Adams admitted he was not provoked or threatened by the teenager prior to the alleged attack, but decided to be “proactive rather than reactive,” as he said people who listen to rap music are a threat to him and the community.
According to Arizona Department of Corrections, Adams had just been released from the Arizona State Prison Complex in Yuma two days before he allegedly killed Al-Amin.
After the murder charges were brought forward, Jacie Cotterell, Adams’s lawyer, said her client was “set up for failure,” because of inabilities to give him access to mental health services following his release from prison.
“To be specific, he was given resources, he wasn’t given means to get to those resources,” Cotterell told AZ Central.
Speaking to Fox 10, Cotterell argued that Adams should not have been sent to jail in the first place.
“It’s too easy as a society to shake our head and say well, they committed a crime, it’s too bad, we have jails for that when really, what they need is treatment. They need a bed instead of a cell,” she said.
In a statement, Bill Lamoreaux, a spokesman for Arizona Department of Corrections, said that Adams “was not designated seriously mentally ill” following his release.
“The tragic death is terrible, and Mr. Adams will have to answer for his alleged actions,” he added.
Twitter users have been paying their respects for the 17-year-old while questioning whether mental health issues would be brought up if the suspect and the victim’s races were switched.