Profiles of DeOnté Rawlings and James Haskel

More than a year after 14-year-old DeOnté Rawlings was shot in the head by an off-duty police officer, his father Charles reflects on the loss of his son.
Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Youth DeOnté Rawlings, known as "Lip" because of an old football injury, started sweeping floors at 12 at a barbershop in the Shaw neighborhood of Northwest. He made $5 a day.

His employer called him "extraordinarily well-mannered" and devoted to his father. He was the youngest of Charles Rawlings's 12 children and a favorite of his father's. He said he wanted to be a janitor like his dad, who works at an apartment complex in Northwest.

But as DeOnté grew older, he started running with a rougher crowd and his father found him harder to control. He sometimes cut class to roam the hallways at Ballou Senior High School.

Still, he had no juvenile record.

On the day he was killed, Sept. 17, 2007, the 14-year-old freshman headed to school. He returned to his modest, two-story home in Southeast shortly before 7 p.m., then when out.

"I said, 'Be back here before dark,' " Charles recalled.

Less than an hour after DeOnté left the house, the family's phone rang. Sheila Rawlings, DeOnté's stepmother, answered. DeOnté had been shot. She ran down the stairs, screaming.

"We thought it was a drive-by and that he was in the wrong neighborhood," Charles said in an interview last month.

The Officer James Edward Haskel grew up on Xenia Street in Southeast Washington, about four blocks from the home of DeOnté Rawlings.

People in his neighborhood know the 46-year-old Haskel as "Speedy," a nickname his friends jokingly bestowed for "how slow my father drove," he said in a deposition in the lawsuit the city faces over the Rawlings shooting.

Haskel has fancied minibikes since he was a kid and had owned the red bike involved in the Rawlings shooting for decades. He graduated from Ballou in 1982. Just shy of 6 feet and weighing 220 pounds, Haskel joined the police department in 1985, serving in the 1st District and more recently in the helicopter unit.

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