The story of Latasha Harlins’ death is circulating on TikTok.
The 15-year-old was killed in 1991 after a convenience store owner, who believed the teen attempted to steal, opened fire at her.
The incident occurred 13 days after the infamous police assault on African-American Rodney King.
What happened to Latasha Harlins?
Born January 1st, 1976, Harlins and her siblings were raised by her maternal grandmother after her mother, Crystal, was killed in 1985.
On March 16th, 1991, the 15-year-old entered Empire Liquor, a Korean-owned South Central Los Angeles store, to purchase a bottle of $1.79 orange juice.
Owner Soon Ja Du believed that Harlins attempted to steal the beverage and as the teen left the store empty-handed, she was shot by Du with a 38–caliber revolver, as stated in the legal documents on Find Law.
Court documents claim that Harlins selected a bottle of juice, placed it into her backpack, and approached the counter. Du saw the teen put the product into her bag and testified that she was suspicious because if she was going to pay for it, she expected the juice to be in her hand.
Two witnesses, aged 13 and nine, claimed that Du called Harlins a “b****” and accused her of theft; the young girl then stated that she intended to pay for it. On the other hand, the then-51-year-old claimed Harlins replied: “What orange juice?”
The pair got into a physical altercation and the orange juice fell to the floor, so Harlins picked up the beverage and placed it on the counter. She proceeded to leave without the drink but was shot from approximately three feet, ending her life instantly.
Latasha had $2 in her hand when she died.
Soon Ja Du’s sentence continues to anger the internet
Du was sentenced to ten years in state prison (six years for the base term and four for the gun use) for voluntary manslaughter by Judge Joyce Karlin, as per LA Times. The punishment was eventually suspended and Du was placed on five-year probation with a $500 fine and 400 hours of community service.
She was also required to reimburse the Harlin family for out-of-pocket medical expenses and expenses related to the funeral.
Some TikTok users remain perplexed at the decision. On the 15th anniversary of the LA Riots in 2006, Time reported that Du was living in the San Fernando Valley, California. Any further update on her is unknown.
A documentary celebrating Harlins life, titled A Love Song for Latasha, premiered on Netflix in 2019.