Interview With Deborah Thomas Who Lives In The House Where Kiwane Carrington Was Killed

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On December 8, State’s Attorney Julia Reitz released a 13-
page report concluding that Kiwane Carrington had been
shot “accidentally” by Champaign police officer Daniel
Norbits. While dedicating only one paragraph to Norbits’
history, and failing to mention his involvement in the
2000 death of Gregory Brown, Rietz spends several pages
discrediting the black witnesses. After reviewing the interviews
with Deborah Thomas, who lived at 906 W. Vine
where Kiwane was killed, Rietz said her statements “were
not considered to be credible.” In particular, Rietz said
Thomas initially stated that Kiwane was not allowed to be
in the house. In this interview on Dec. 11, 2009, conducted
by Melodye Rosales and Chris Evans, Thomas responds
to the claim that she changed her story, explains how
police lied to her, and says Kiwane was always permitted
in her home.
CE: So, what was your schedule that day? You got up at
about 6 a.m. and then…
DT: Got those two ready for school, my step sister usually
comes to get those two and I usually take off for
school. Which is what I did.
CE: What time was your class?
DT: 7 am.
CE: What time did you get over there?
DT: 7:50.
CE How did you come back?
DT: I came back home. I drove my car.
CE: That’s right. And you got here at about 7:50.
DT: No. I got here—class is out at 7:50. I got here maybe
about say 10, 20 after 8.
CE: OK. When you came in the-
DT: It had to at least be about 8:25, 8:30 to tell you, to be
exact, because Ebonee and Issiah, at that time were
both were going to Central. My brother comes to
pick them up at exactly 10 after 8 and they were all
gone. When I came home, Kiwane was sitting, was
standing right here, where my microwave is. Right
down there. And he was cooking him something to
eat. And I said: “Boy, how come you are not at school
like the rest of the kids?” He said: “Mrs. Debra, you
know, I go to READY, I don’t got to be at school until
10.” I said: “OK” […].
CE: And Kiwane had spent the night?
DT: Yeah.
CE: And he had full permission all summer to be in the
house, part of the household.
DT: Yes he was. If I went to McDonald’s, bought the kids
something to eat, he got something too. He didn’t
even have to ask […]. After that I went back to Parkland.
DT: Because I had to be in class at 12.
CE: OK. You got out at what time?
DT: 12:50. But I didn’t leave from there […] I went to the
library and printed out some papers and things.
DT: Yeah. Then from there I had all the calls on my
phone, but you know I couldn’t answer, you can’t
answer the phone you know when you are in class.
So I didn’t think none of it until I got to the Y. I went
to the YMCA ’cause I was trying to get my two
younger kids from the Y. And I started getting all
these phone calls. And my sister called. My step sister,
Mary. She’s like: “You have got to get at your
house real fast ’cause a whole bunch of police is out
there. They’ve got their guns out and everything.
Something is going on.” And I’m like “What? Let me
hang up.” Then my phone blows up again. And then
I said: “Let me check all these messages.” So I
checked one. And one was from the dispatch or
something from the Champaign police. She gave me
her name. I can’t remember right now. It’s on my
phone. And she said: “You need to get to your house
real fast. Someone’s been shot” […].
CE: So where, did you meet the first police officer?
DT: Actually at the neighbor’s part of the driveway ’cause
I couldn’t get nowhere near my home. And that’s
when I was fussing about. I’m like: “What’s going on?
What happened? Who got shot at my house?”
“Ma’am, we don’t know right now. We don’t know
anything right now. We don’t know nothing.” That’s
all I was getting. “We don’t know nothing.” You
know. And I’m like: “What’s going on?” “Someone
was trying to break into your house.” And I’m like:
“Who got shot?” And then I see my dad. He was
walking down the street. And I’m like, “It was one of
those kids. Was it one of those kids?” They’re like:
“M’am, we can’t tell you anything.” That was [Champaign
police officer John] Schweighart […]. My dad
said the same thing, he said: “Was it one of those
kids?” Schweighart, out of his mouth, said, “We can
assure you guys it wasn’t a kid” […].
CE: Did you sign anything?
DT: Yeah.
CE: What did you sign?
DT: I signed a consent to come into my home […].
CE: What did you think you were signing?
DT: They asked me to sign a piece of paper to make sure,
to check that no one else was inside my house. That’s
what they told me […]. So of course they still lead
me to believe that the house had been broken into.
So this is why I’m thinking it was already a burglary.
And I’m thinking in my head it’s grown people,
’cause that’s what they told me. They told me it was
no kids. They said it was two grown men […].
MR: We read in the newspaper and other places about
you changing your story. What was that about?
DT: I don’t know, I’m trying to think: What part of the
story did I change? You talking about the question, oh,
the Champaign question: “Was anyone supposed to be
at your house? That’s the question, the only one I can
think of. And that’s one that came up. Actually, to me
what kind of sparked my memory, when I went to
court with Jeshaun. The very first time. And they said
they were still trying to say he got in trouble for burglary
because they said: “You changed your story.” And
I’m like: “Well, how?” That’s when Jeshaun first went
to court. And they said: “You saying wasn’t nobody
supposed to be at your house.” And I said: “But that’s
what I meant. During that time of the day all the kids
are supposed to be at school.” So that’s what I was
meaning by, wasn’t nobody was supposed to be at my
house, not during that time of the day. And then more
or less my kids really don’t be here unless there is an
adult here. That’s what I meant, ’cause my brother is
usually here from 1:30 in the afternoon to 2:00. He
picks my two younger kids up at Dr. Howard at 2:00,
from 2:00 on until what, 4-4:30, my brother is here.
For the full 40-page transcription of this interview go to
the all-new website dedicated to Kiwane Carrington created
through a collaboration between Smile Politely and UCIMC:

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