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A teenager who was a fleeting sensation on YouTube earlier this year after he was videotaped being spanked by his uncle for boasting about gang ties on his Facebook page was found shot to death last week, just steps away from his Terrytown neighborhood home.
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said Michael Taylor, 16, was found shot to death shortly after 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7 when deputies responded to a report of gunshots in the area.
Taylor had been shot multiple times.
Sgt. Larry Dyess, JPSO spokesman, told the Times-Picayune that authorities had no suspect or motive in the incident.
Taylor’s mother, Kimberly Ward, told the newspaper that she kept strict tabs on her son, even making him stay on the sidewalk in eyesight of their home when he went outside. The night of the shooting, she said, Taylor received a text message from a friend at about 8 p.m. and went outside to chat.
"She said she called him back inside a few minutes later to find out what was going on, and he told her he was just talking and went back outside. A few minutes later, her daughter received a text message saying that Taylor had been shot, and then another saying he was dead," the newspaper reported.
"Ward said she rushed from the house, driving around the neighborhood looking for her son, but didn't find him until she was coming back to her apartment complex. That's when she saw his body on the cold sidewalk, clad in the red sweatshirt she'd noticed when he left the house.
"I came home and saw my son on the ground," Ward said.
In addition to his mother and sister, Taylor is survived by a brother, grandparents and a host of relatives and friends. His funeral is scheduled for this morning.
In the YouTube video, posted in January, Taylor’s uncle ordered him to disavow any ties to gangs, announced that the family "don’t come from that sh--," and then proceeded to take off his belt and spank Taylor in full view of the laptop camera.
Rappers Lil Wayne and Birdman spoofed the video, as did another video site called StuntKidzTV.
The original video sparked tons of reaction, from people who applauded the uncle’s actions, calling it an overdue return to old-school parenting and discipline, to those who speculated the public humiliation might drive the teenager deeper into a gang's circle because the youth had been humiliated.
"I am not surprised to hear that this young man's life has ended violently. When I saw the video, I kept thinking that by beating this youth, the uncle was setting him up for some kind of tragedy, either prison or an early grave," said Stacey Patton, who in April launched the web site SparetheKids.com to offer black parents alternatives to corporal punishment and the tools to help foster the healthy development of children.
"I don’t understand why more people don't make the connection between how children are dealt with at home and the larger societal impact," Patton said. "Studies show that maltreated youth make up a disproportionate number of youth involved in school and gang violence. Violent parental discipline increases the risk that a child will act violently later in life. The use of violent discipline teaches children that violence is an appropriate means of shaping behavior and solving problems. Physically disciplining a child has no positive impact for the child, that child's relationship with the parents, or the larger community."
Ward told the Times-Picayune that her son was mild-mannered, but had begun hanging out with tough guys, telling her that he did it for protection to avoid problems with other students.
She cited a couple of incidents that she said might have led someone to come after her son, but in each case, Ward maintained her son had been the victim of a misunderstanding or was targeted because of his connection to others who may have instigated a dispute.
She also said Taylor recently took a photo with a friend that was posted on Facebook, that the friend had been involved in an ongoing dispute with an Algiers group and that someone recently threatened Taylor when she took him to the mall recently.
Ward told the newspaper she believed her son's friends, not his actions, led to his death.
"He was guilty by a.ssociation," she said.
people gotta learn how to read. they said that the fact he put the video on youtube for everyone in the world to watch might have been the cause of the result, not the beating itself. meaning, imagine yourself as a 16 year old and theres a video for everyone to see circulating throughout your high school of you getting whipped like a little kid by your uncle; how would you feel?
granted it then later says that corporal puishment can cause adverse results, which i disagree with, the article only referred to the public humiliation as the cause of his death.
sad........i got a lil cousin in the seem situation...he keep hang with these thugs. all ready got sucker punched a some ghetto a.ss house party ....i hope nothing happen to him. that whole lifestyle is lame. these kids think its cool, it dont help these pus*y low IQ rappers brag about it. most of them never even been into a fist f!ght before
thats true. kids dont understand that gangs might "seem" cool or "gangsta" to be in at a young age, but they dont understand the severity and the danger of being in a gang; dont forget theres no future but jail or death for gang members.