Last night, Ferguson police officer Greg Casem couldn’t sleep. He was haunted by the memory of carrying 9-year-old Jamyla Bolden out of her home and to a waiting ambulance.
Bolden was struck by gunfire when someone shot into her home — and around the corner from the spot where a memorial for slain Ferguson teen Michael Brown still stands on Canfield Drive.
“Oh man,” Casem, 53, told The Washington Post on Friday, pausing for a long moment. “It was tough.”
“I’m just sad,” Casem said, his voice heavy with emotion. “I’m glad that I was there to do my best, but I feel that I didn’t do my best.
“I wish there was more I could’ve done,” he added.
Around 9:30 p.m, someone fired shots into the home on Ellison Drive, where single-family ranchers line the street. Jamyla was killed in her mother’s bed where she was doing homework, her family said. Her mother, 34, was also shot and wounded. No one has been arrested in the crime.
“I kept holding and holding her,” the girl’s grandmother told the Post-Dispatch. “I still have her blood on my hands. She was still breathing. I was telling her to just breathe.”
At a vigil outside the home Thursday night, members of the Ferguson community gathered to mourn a life gone too soon. Casem, unable to hold back his emotions, cried.
His tears were for Jamyla and for Ferguson, where he has served as an officer for nearly three decades. Jamyla’s grandfather came over and hugged him, Casem said. He told Casem, “you did everything you could.”
“I think this really hit me pretty hard because it was real brutal,” Casem said. “I think after what we’ve been through, everything’s been hard.
“But this is a very senseless killing that should never have been. She was 9 years old. 9.”
Casem and another officer at the scene tried desperately to save her life, but Jamyla succumbed to her wounds. Casem went back to work, canvassing the neighborhood for witnesses.
Later, when that work was done, he sat in his car, overcome.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Abby Phillip