Harvard Student Linked to Kirkland Shooting Denies Involvement

Chanequa N. Campbell ’09—one of two Harvard students linked to last Monday’s shooting in Kirkland House—denied any involvement with the incident Tuesday and accused Harvard administrators of unjustly barring her from graduating next month because of her background.

Campbell—who lived in the Kirkland Annex where the shooting took place—received two letters last Friday from Harvard administrators informing her that she must leave campus and prohibiting her from attending all graduation activities, according to her lawyer, Jeffrey T. Karp. Campbell has denied any connection to the incident or involvement in dealing drugs to Harvard students, Karp said.

Two female Harvard students allowed the victim, 21-year-old Cambridge resident Justin Cosby, and three others involved in the incident to enter Kirkland, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone, Jr. ’85.

Last Friday, New York songwriter Jabrai J. Copney, 20, pled not guilty to charges of first-degree murder for the May 18 shooting in Kirkland J-entryway that led to Cosby’s death early the next morning.

Copney, along with two unidentified individuals from New York, planned to scam Cosby out of drugs and money in his possession, Leone said, adding that police recovered a pound of marijuana and approximately $1,000 on or near Cosby after he had been shot.

Cosby has been linked to drug sales to Harvard students, The Crimson reported last Wednesday, citing multiple text messages sent to Harvard students from a phone registered to Cosby’s mother mentioning marijuana and suggesting that Cosby was engaged in its sale.

Karp said that Campbell and Lowell resident Brittany J. Smith ’09 have both been linked to the incident. He said Campbell denied knowing the victim or giving her swipe card—which grants access to Harvard dorms—to anyone that day.

“I have no knowledge of anything that happened,” Campbell told the Globe in an interview monitored by her lawyer. “None, whatsoever.”

In their communications with Campbell and her attorney, Harvard administrators did not cite specific reasons for their decision to send Campbell off campus and bar her from graduating, simply attributing her removal to “the recent shooting,” Karp said.

“She’s been granted no due process, no appeal, nothing,” Karp said.

Faculty of Arts and Sciences spokesman Robert P. Mitchell declined to comment on the case Tuesday, citing the ongoing police investigation and Harvard’s policy not to discuss information regarding individual students.

Though Campbell said she is stopping short of accusing the University of outright racism, she said she believes she is being “singled out” because of her background.

“The honest answer to that is that I’m black and I’m poor and I’m from New York and I walk a certain way and I keep my clothes a certain way,” Campbell told the Globe in response to a question about Harvard’s motivation for acting against her. “It’s something that labels me as different from everyone else.”

Karp said that his client has provided authorities with “verifiable alibis,” stating she gave them “an hour by hour, if not a minute by minute” account of her whereabouts that day.

The Globe and the Associated Press report that Campbell was taking a final the day of the shooting and suggest that she lived far from the scene of the crime. In fact, Campbell lived only two entryways—about 80 feet—away from where the shooting took place.

It is unclear what if any charges Smith, the other Harvard student allegedly involved in the incident, who Karp said is Copney’s longtime girlfriend, faces from the University or law enforcement. Smith could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

—Staff writer Eric P. Newcomer can be reached at newcomer@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer June Q. Wu can be reached at junewu@fas.harvard.edu.