Shooter gets probation in friend's death on Instagram
A 19-year-old Detroit man who accidentally shot his best friend to death in an incident filmed on Instagram was sentenced to three years of probation Wednesday and ordered to speak to Detroit schoolchildren about the dangers of guns.
Dawone Cook had pleaded guilty last month to careless discharge of a weapon causing injury or death in the April 2 shooting of Dyan Hemphill, 18, at a home in the 17600 block of San Juan on Detroit's northwest side. He could have been sentenced to as much as two years in prison.
In issuing the sentence under the Holmes Youth Training Act, Judge Gregory Bill of Wayne County Circuit Court told Cook the shooting is "something you have to live with the rest of your life."
"When you go to these schools and talk about gun violence and social media, I want you to remember your friend every time you address them," the judge said to Cook. "You understand that?"
The judge also ordered Cook to pay restitution of $2,447 to Hemphill's family.
Hemphill's twin sister and his mother declined to make victim impact statements but had asked Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Ashley Ciaffone to request that Cook spend part of his 100 hours of community service talking to youngsters about the dangers of guns and gun violence.
Cook addressed the mother and sister, saying: "I just want to apologize to y'all."
"This was a very tragic event," Ciaffone said. "The defendant and the victim were best friends.
"Sometimes students and kids think that using a gun or playing with a gun on social media is ... emulating what they see, but this is the tragic side of it," the prosecutor said.
The two pals were playing with a rifle that included a bayonet while filming on Instagram when the gun, which Cook was holding, discharged. Hemphill was shot in the head and pronounced dead at the scene.
Cook's attorney Maurice Davis said "this was a tragedy, to say the least."
"My client shot his best friend," Davis said. "The two of them were like brothers. It's something Mr. Cook will have to deal with the rest of his life. Words really cannot express the amount of remorse Mr. Cook feels about the situation. Words cannot express the (pain) the victim's family feels."
The judge told Cook he has been given a "golden opportunity" by being sentenced under the Holmes Act. He told Cook to get a job and stay away from firearms and troublemakers.
"You're at a real crossroad in your life," Bill said as Cook stood in front of him. "You can redeem yourself or go the other way."