Brother of Tacoma drive-by victim responds to lesser-penalty proposal: ‘We were blindsided’
Calling the news “a shock,” Tacoma native Damian Pittman says he’s “baffled” by three Washington state lawmakers who have pre-filed state House Bill 1692 that would lessen penalties for drive-by murderers to “promote racial equity.”
Damian Pittman choked up on The Dori Monson Show while recalling the love and respect he had for his older brother – Corey Pittman, then 19, who was gunned down 24 years ago on Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood while on summer break from Alabama State University.
The proposed bill comes despite Seattle drive-by shootings soaring at least 100 percent in 2021, with eight shootings in Seattle and Tacoma over the New Year’s weekend alone.
Saying current law unfairly targets Black and Brown people, bill co-sponsor Tarra Simmons (D-Bremerton) calls the aggravated first-degree murder case against Corey Pittman’s killer, Kimonte Carter, an example of “systemic racism.” Simmons, who is the first felon elected to the Washington State Legislature, is joined on the proposal by David Hackney (D-Tukwila) whose district includes Kent, Renton, Tukwila and South Seattle, and Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline).
Damian Pittman says none of the three legislators reached out to him regarding their proposed bill – even though Carter’s conviction for killing his brother appears to be the only current case in Washington state that would be affected.
“There’s an important human side to this,” Dori shared with listeners. “It sounded like Corey had some big-time plans.” A Lincoln High School graduate, Corey Pittman served as senior class treasurer, homecoming king, and president of the school’s Martin Luther King Jr. Club before heading off to study political science with goals to be a lawyer.
“Corey was very funny, smart, ambitious,” Damian recalls. “You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t admire him. He had a way of making the community better, making the world better.
“There’s nothing better than having a brother,” he says. “I was born with a best friend.”
Carter, meanwhile, is 39, and still serving a life sentence for the drive-by shooting. Dori points out that, if passed, the legislation could get Carter out of prison – “maybe right away.”
Damian Pittman calls it “baffling” that lawmakers point to Carter’s good behavior in prison, and makes it clear that this “doesn’t mean that you’re absolved from punishment. . . They can spin it in whatever way they want, but I’m a Black man. This isn’t about party lines. This isn’t about racial equity.”
What would Damian Pittman say to the legislators promoting this bill?
“My family was destroyed in one night. I haven’t been right since. Even just talking about it brings pain,” he says. “I implore you. No parents should have to bury their kids. Say his name. Corey Pittman. He was not a name a nameless victim. He was a person.”
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