I grew up believing that if I ever needed help, and needed to be protected in an emergency, I could call the police. I have learned in the past two years that this is not always the case. In fact, on 17 July 2011, Detective Bradford J. Cavender (Badge number 1683) with the Prince William County, VA police department did the exact opposite – he went after victims and defended a criminal.
As I have stated before, it was my promise to Prince that I would make everyone who had a hand in his death aware of what happened and unable to hide behind a lack of media exposure. So Sgt. Cavender, now its your turn.
Dear Sgt Cavender,
My name is Hera McLeod. You might remember me as the woman you labeled as black without asking me my race. Or maybe you will remember me as the woman who plead with you to protect me and my newborn baby boy. You may not have heard yet, but my son died in the home of that man whom you protected. You were the officer on duty that night and were tasked with investigating a report of rape. This, however, was too complicated and you decided that instead of charging for rape you would arrest the two women who asked for your help. Right after you did so, you were promoted. Is that why you did it? Did you need just two more charges to get that promotion?
Do you have children Sgt. Cavender? That day we spoke you seemed so sure that Luc wouldn’t come after me and my newborn son. You had no trouble harassing me over a car Luc claimed I had taken from him. Did you know that he, in fact, did come after us?
I hope that you never have to watch your children die as I had to watch mine. Even though I blame you for your callous actions in July 2011, I wouldn’t wish my story on anyone. I do, however, pray that you remember Prince. I pray that every time you see a case before you that appears “too complicated”…that you take an extra look. When your police department decided to give evidence to the accused and allow his “friends” to create a video of a sexual act (that was taped via hidden camera without consent), you acted unethically. You chose not to charge a man who admitted to having committed a crime. Would you have charged him if it had happened to your family? Did you dismiss my story because of the color of my skin?
I will live with the memory of that night I met you for the rest of my life. I will never forget how your decisions likely cost my baby boy his life. I will never see my child grow up the way you will get to see yours grow.
His name was Prince Elias McLeod. He was 15.5 months old the day he died. By the time the ambulance arrived he had no pulse, had turned blue, was cold, and was already brain dead. Prince loved to laugh, sing, dance, and run. He will never do those things again. You, however, will be allowed to continue making the same life changing decisions you made that night as a Prince William County Police officer.
May God forgive you – it will take a while before I can.
Hera McLeod (Prince’s Mama)