This past June, Christopher Cooper was falsely arrested on the charges of felony murder and criminal discharge of a firearm. Immediately, Cooper’s family and activists spoke out in defense of Cooper, a 19 year old college student with no criminal record, and no gang affiliations.
The charges stemmed from a shooting that took place at a house party on Cypress Street, in Wichita, Kansas, in a relatively affluent neighborhood. Cooper did attend that house party, but had nothing to do with the shooting that occurred when a large number of uninvited guests showed up, some of whom may have been gang members.
Today, Cooper was released from the Sedgwick County Detention Facility after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting a felon, and being sentenced to nine months of probation, a significantly lesser sentence than he would have received had he been found guilty of felony murder, a charge that carries a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison.
Cooper was first offered this plea bargain about one month ago, and initially turned the offer down, because he did not want to be convicted of a felony charge, but ultimately decided to accept the deal, for fear of how a Kansas jury might view a young black man accused of a crime. The aiding and abetting charge involves the allegation that Cooper gave a ride to one of the suspects in the case, as over 100 guests from the party were fleeing the gunfire, in a scene that officers described as “chaotic”.
The charge seems strange, considering the young man Cooper gave a ride to has not been convicted of a crime in relation to this incident.
Cooper says he is relieved to be home with family and is looking forward to returning to college.