Shaun Harrison, currently in state prison for shooting an English High student in the back of the head in 2015, today agreed to plead guilty to federal RICO violations for his role as a leader of a Latin Kings gang based in Dorchester.
In a separate federal case, a judge today ordered Harrison to pay the student he shot, Luis Rodriguez, $10 million in damages for leaving him with permanent physical and mental disabilities, although as a prisoner, it is unlikely Harrison will be able to pay up. A judge had earlier dismissed Boston Public Schools from Rodriguez's suit.
Under the plea agreement with federal prosecutors filed in US District Court today, a judge in federal court will be asked to sentence Harrison to a little more than 18 years in prison - but with credit for the time he serves on the state charges. Federal judges are free to reject plea deals. A date has yet to be set for a judge to consider the proposed deal.
According to court records, Harrison suspected Rodriguez of shorting him on three "dime bags" of marijuana he was selling as part of a pot ring Harrison had organized in his role as a leader of the Devon Street Kings chapter of the Latin Kings. He convinced Rodriguez to hang with him in his Roxbury apartment - not realizing the beating another student inflicted on him the day before had been ordered by Harrison.
As they walked single file through the snow piles left from the 2015 blizzards, Harrison took out a gun and shot Rodriguez point blank in the back of his head, then left the scene to let him die. Only, as US District Court Judge Leo Sorokin, who oversaw Rodriguez's suit, wrote:
Miraculously, Rodriguez survived through a combination of gritty determination - he plugged the hole in his head with his fingers to stanch the bleeding till a passerby stopped - and good fortune - the bullet missed his brain stem and carotid artery by two centimeters.
All has not been easy though for Rodriguez. He endured two surgeries, spending twelve days in the hospital. The bullet shattered his jaw, which doctors wired shut for nine months. He remains paralyzed on half of his face, suffers from neuropathy in his neck and face, has had hearing loss, and requires weights on his eye lids to aid in opening and shutting his eyes. The bullet remains lodged in his head causing headaches as well as pain in cold weather. This is to say nothing of the emotional distress that Rodriguez has endured since the shooting. Rodriguez understandably suffers from post- traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"), which makes it difficult for him to keep a steady job. After he was prescribed narcotics during his treatment at Boston Medical Center, Rodriguez developed an opiate addiction with which he continues to struggle.
And after Rodriguez testified against Harrison, the Latin Kings ordered a hit on him - which failed - and he "lives in fear that he or his family will once again be targeted," Sorokin wrote.
All this, plus the sheer heinousness of Harrison's actions, warranted more than $10 million in damages, the judge concluded:
This was a terrible and heinous act by Harrison. Harrison abused a position of trust, responsibility, and authority. He attempted and almost succeeded in murdering Rodriguez. The shooting inflicted tremendous pain both at the time and during the aftermath. The pain will continue for the rest of Rodriguez's life. Harrison forever changed the way the world sees Rodriguez and the way Rodriguez interacts with others. His face is half paralyzed and he suffers from PTSD. These changes are long-lasting and ever-present in Rodriguez's interactions with others.