One Year After His Death, Justin Carr's Aunt Sees Little Change In Charlotte

Sep 20, 2017

This time last year, Charlotte was making national news for the protests that erupted in uptown the day after Keith Scott was shot and killed by a CMPD police officer. But there was another causality last September, 26-year-old Justin Carr who was shot and killed outside of the Omni hotel during one of the demonstrations. Rayquan Borum who was there that night, will be tried for the murder of Carr likely sometime next year.

Carr was a Charlotte native with a son on the way. WFAE’s Sarah Delia sat down with Carr’s aunt to hear how the family is a year later.

Bonita Graham, Justin Carr’s aunt describes her nephew as a jokester who loved to laugh. Graham was close to Carr, her sister Vivian even let her name him when he was born.

Graham says she’s still in shock that Carr was killed that night in front of the Omni. That night, she sat in disbelief as she watched images on her TV screen go from peaceful protests to violent riots. She had knots in her stomach knowing her nephew was there, somewhere. Then reports started to come in that someone had been killed.

"They never gave a name so I kept saying to myself 'that’s not Justin, that’s not Justin,'" said Graham.

Graham says Carr went to the protest that night because he had been following the news and wanted to participate in a peaceful demonstration. He was inspired by his grandmother who participated in protests during the civil rights movement. At one point he called his mother to let her know he was at the protest and that it was peaceful. The next phone call Vivian Carr received was that her son had been shot. 

Graham says this year has been very hard for the family. They especially felt his loss during Christmas, the first holiday without him. Even though he wasn't there, she told the family she was still making his favorite dishes. 

"Justin loved certain things that I cooked. I told them that I'm not wavering, I'm going to cook it whether you like it or not, I always cooked it for Justin," she said. 

Carr's son was born about a month after his death. Graham says Carr and his girlfriend already had a name picked out but she ended up naming him Justin after his father. The family calls him little Justin.

"Right now, little Justin looks just like his dad," Graham said.

Last October, Graham wrote a letter to Mayor Jennifer Roberts expressing her disappointment in her leadership in the aftermath of the Keith Scott shooting. Graham says city officials didn't do enough during that time and that there was "no voice for Justin."

Graham says that for her, nothing has changed in Charlotte one year later. 

"I feel like the city is apart. I feel like it’s us and them. It’s not just us anymore. And you don’t see that until something happens," Graham reflects.

Raquan Borum will go to trail for the death of Carr likely sometime next year. Graham says she will be there every single day the Lord will let her be there. 

Graham says she will be paying attention to the facts of the case. As far as different theories surrounding Borum's innocence, she says she hopes groups that believe it was CMPD or a rubber bullet that killed Carr have their facts straight. 

"My hope is that these theories that are going around, that they have their facts, too," Graham said. "If you say 'this' where are your facts? Cause that's what I believe in, facts. That's what I'm going to go on."