On May 25, 1997, the kidnapping, rape and murder of Sherrice Iverson in a Las Vegas casino bathroom would change my life forever.
The child was from my neighborhood in South Los Angeles and was the same age as my daughter, so I took her murder very personally.
I was shocked and outraged that any one would harm a child. As a young activist, I was determined that this child from my community would have justice.
Her killer, Jeremy Strohmeyer, 18, of nearby Long Beach, was arrested days later and eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. But David T. Cash, 18, Strohmeyer’s best friend and classmate from Long Beach, was identified as the other man who was with him at the time of Sherrice’s murder.
According to an affidavit filed in Goodsprings Justice Court and the official police report, Iverson was alive when Cash entered the bathroom and peered over a bathroom stall and witnessed the start of the initial sexual assault.
Strohmeyer told Las Vegas police he was playing hide and seek with Sherrice, the affidavit continued, with a statement that while the two were playing Iverson threw a “caution wet floor” sign at Strohmeyer and he became angered.
“He followed her into the women’s restroom and grabbed Iverson and took her into the handicapped stall and put his hand over her mouth as she began to scream because she was struggling trying too escape,” the affidavit said. Strohmeyer then proceeded to place Iverson on the top of the toilet and began too remove her pants and underpants.
He then began his sexual assault.
Strohmeyer stated he then placed Iverson in front of him and placed both his hands around her neck to stop her from screaming. He continued to choke her for about 10 minutes until she stopped struggling. As the assault continued, Strohmeyer heard three females enter the restroom.
After the women, exited the restroom he said that he noticed that Iverson was having trouble breathing so he attempted to break her neck, the affidavit said. Strohmeyer said he picked her up and, using both hands, twisted her head in attempt to break her neck.
He said he heard a loud pop but she was still breathing so Strohmeyer repeated the motion in an attempt to snap the young girl’s neck a second time using all his strength until he felt he had killed her, he stated. He then placed her pants, under pants, and black boots inside of the toilet and exited the women’s restroom. Sherrice was left there propped up on a toilet. Raped and murdered at the tender age of 7.
Cash told investigators that when he asked Strohymeyer “what happened to the little girl?” that Strohmeyer told him, “I killed that little nigger girl.” He also stated that as he witnessed the beginning of the assault on Iverson that Strohmeyer was aware that he was there, but his attack on Iverson continued. Cash then told police he walked out of the bathroom and waited outside.
I don’t know how anyone could not be outraged after reading those official court documents. I was outraged then and I’m still outraged.
The local prosecutor in Las Vegas told me as I met with him during a break in court proceedings that their was no state law to charge Cash with since he was just with Strohmeyer. I disagreed vigorously and stated that Cash was a lookout and accomplice.
My argurment fell on deaf ears with the Las Vegas prosecutor. So I decided to change the law and eventually met with Las Vegas and California elected officials. Eventually I found my way to my friend and mentor, the late California State Sen. Tom Hayden.
He was the first elected official to step up to the plate and help me. Together, we crafted the first draft of a ground-breaking bill called the Sherrice Iverson Child Protection Act, AB 1422. It protects children from sexual and violent attacks and was signed into state law by the governor of Nevada in 2000 and California in 2001.
I was blessed to help draft and spearhead a child protection bill that is historic. It was the first law named after a slain African-American child in U.S. history.
But that’s not enough for myself, nor should it be for our community. Cash is still free. He went to UC Berkeley and graduated. Iverson went to a grave at Inglewood Cemetery.
That’s why on May 20 at 3 p.m. at Leimert Park we are announcing that Project Islamic HOPE and our supporters have sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session’s office asking that he open a civil rights probe into Iverson’s murder, asking why David T. Cash wasn’t charged with a criminal penalty at the time of this child’s murder.
There is no statute of limations on murder. We will continue with a walk down Crenshaw Boulevard. In memory of Iverson and all murdered children, we encourage parents, family and friends to bring signs and pictures of their slain children.
The fight for justice continues and we appreciate our co-sponsors of the justice walk for murdered children. Activists La Wanda Hawkins, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, the Rev. Waymon Baker and the Rev. K.W.Tulloss.
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