Jun 11, 2024 - News

Mother of Huguenot student killed in graduation shooting may sue Richmond Public Schools for $11M

A woman sitting in front of the Altria Theater looking off to the left while holding photos of her husband and son in front of a diploma

Tameeka Jackson-Smith in front of the Altria Theater where her son and husband were killed last year. Photo: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post/Getty Images

The mother of Shawn Jackson, the Huguenot student killed in the mass shooting outside of graduation last year, might sue Richmond Public Schools, WTVR reports.

The big picture: Tameeka Jackson-Smith, who lost both her son and husband Renzo Smith in the shooting, sent a demand letter to the school board in late May seeking $11 million in damages.

  • A demand letter is often an attempt to resolve an issue outside of court and an intent to sue if the recipient doesn't respond accordingly.
  • Jackson-Smith's lawyer and an RPS spokesperson did not comment to WTVR on the letter.

State of play: The letter, per WTVR, says that RPS knew 18-year-old Jackson shouldn't have been at graduation due to safety concerns and let him go anyway.

  • An extensive investigation into the shooting, made public earlier this year, found that Jackson's mother repeatedly warned RPS officials that people were trying to kill him.
  • It also revealed that staff were aware of threats against Jackson, but didn't report them to administration or police.
  • And no one officially signed off on him attending graduation as outlined by an RPS handbook.

Between the lines: That 32-page report from a third-party law firm likely wouldn't have been released if the Times-Dispatch and WTVR hadn't sued the school board for it.

Zoom in: Amari Pollard pleaded guilty to killing Jackson last year outside of the Altria Theater, and his attorney unsuccessfully tried to withdraw the plea after saying he misled Pollard into taking it.

  • A year after the shooting, Jackson's mother told the Times-Dispatch she still doesn't know who hit her 9-year-old daughter with a car that day — leaving her in a wheelchair for three months — or who shot and killed her husband.

What's next: RPS has until July to respond to her demand letter.

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