Los Angeles Teen Killed: Was His Shoe Color to Blame?

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A place once called the “City of Angels” is now known as the gang capital of the nation. Los Angeles, California has become one of the most gang prevalent cities in the United States. Over the past three years there have been a total of 16,398 verified gang crimes in LA including homicides, rapes, robberies and felony assaults. These gangs have affected many families and communities by taking the lives of innocent people. One of the families recently affected by this violence was the family of Tavin Price. Price, a developmentally disabled 19-year-old, was shot and killed in front of his mother on Friday in Southern Los Angeles, in an incident that many believe was gang related.

Price and his mother, Jennifer Rivers, were on their way to the beach when they stopped at a car wash near the corner of Florence Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard. According to Detective Eric Crosson of the Los Angeles Police Department, while Tavin’s mother was at the carwash he went to a nearby market to purchase cigarettes. There he was approached by a suspect described as a black man in his late teens or early 20s and was questioned about his red shoes. Crosson stated, 

He was confronted by someone who inquired about his possible gang affiliation because of some red clothing he was wearing. He denied being a gang member and went back to where his mother was.

Price, who was no taller than 5 feet and less than 100 pounds, quickly returned to his mother as she said “let’s go” while the man followed him. Before they could leave, Tavin was shot four times in the back and chest. After hearing gunshots, Rivers turned around and chased the gunman until she lost sight of him. Price was then rushed to the hospital where he passed away during surgery. Rivers stated,

Every time I close my eyes, I see my son’s eyes rolling around as he cried, ‘Mommy I don’t want to die.’ That’s my final memory of him. But I can’t let that be my strongest memory.

Price would have turned twenty on Monday, and had just accepted a warehouse job. Police and family members believe that Price had no affiliation to any gang. Detective Crosson said that he was victimized because he wore “the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood.” The color red is associated with a dangerous network of street gangs founded in Los Angeles called the Bloods. Melvin Farmer, a gang interventionist who was formerly associated with the Crips–the rivals of the Bloods and affiliated with the color blue–said the car wash stands on a dividing line between the rival gang territories. Detective Eric Crosson describes this area as “exceptionally violent” and has noted at least five other killings nearby. About three blocks away a 40-year-old man was killed two days before Price. A few blocks farther, a 28-year old woman was killed two weeks earlier. It does not appear that these murders have any connection, but are representative of the prevalence of violence in the gangs’ territories. Tavin’s mother stated:

I wish he would have just shot me instead of my child because that’s cold for a mother to watch somebody just gun her child down in front of her face. That’s a hard, hard thing to deal with, believe me, I can’t even sleep at night since my son died.

Price’s family held a vigil at the car wash where he was described as a man “who loved his family more than anything.” Antheyst Jarrett, a 27-year old black woman, was arrested after the shooting and has been charged with witness intimidation and conspiracy to commit murder. Authorities say she was present during the confrontation. Police are still working hard to find the suspect and bring peace and justice to Price’s family.

R.I.P. #TavinPrice, a young man who was murdered near Florence & Crenshaw ’cause his shoes were the wrong color. #BlackLivesMatter

Gang violence has declined in Los Angeles, but there is still significantly more work to do. In the LA area alone, there have already been over 200 homicide deaths in 2015. According to the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, LA has more than 400 gangs, with over 39,000 members. Communities, families, and policemen have to continue to work hard to put a stop to this violence and to save the lives of innocent people like Tavin Price.

Taelor Bentley
Taelor is a member of the Hampton University Class of 2017 and was a Law Street Media Fellow for the Summer of 2015. Contact Taelor at



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