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Joseph Watson
  • Death date
  • Jan. 19, 2007

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Joseph Watson, 17

Joseph Watson, 17, a black youth, was shot multiple times at 10965 Budlong Ave. and died at 8:21 p.m. Jan. 19. He did not want to join the local gang and may have been killed for it.

--Jill Leovy

Dispatch: "Omissions" [originally published March 22, 2007]

Two months after her son's murder, Brenda Gamble picked up one of his dark shirts to toss in the washing machine.

She caught the scent of Joseph still lingering on the fabric. She folded the shirt and laid it on a table by the door. Maybe she wouldn't wash that one quite yet, she thought.

Photo: Brenda GambleJoseph was shot in the face near the intersection of 109th and Budlong Avenue in Athens on Jan. 19. Two men, Woodrow Player, 19, and Antoine Hargis, 21, were charged with his murder.

The murder was not covered by the Los Angeles Times or, to Gamble's knowledge, by any other news organization. The homicide was not included in the coroner's tally. This web page omitted his name.

The Homicide Report exists precisely to avoid such omissions, to make sure that every homicide in the county, even those not reported by any media, are recorded in at least one public venue.

But it is a work in progress. The weekly lists presented here are not published in any official government report. In fact, the so-called "list" is actually shorthand for an informal process in which coroner's staffers -- at the request of this reporter -- sift through computer records each week. Their data is then matched with information collected piecemeal from various law enforcement agencies.

The result represents the best efforts of this Web page, the coroner and scores of anonymous police officers, sheriff's deputies, detectives, watch commanders and fire officials to report homicide comprehensively.

Even so, some homicides, including Joseph's, are missed. The Report will seek to repair such omissions.

In the meantime, with apologies, here is Joseph Watson:

Photo: Joseph WatsonHe was tall. He was quiet.

He was "a good kid in a real tough neighborhood," said sheriff's homicide Det. Todd Anderson. Watson was a running back on the football team at Washington Preparatory High School, and he wanted to be a police officer "and get rid of all these gangsters," his mother said.

He resisted pressure from gangs all his life.

They shot at him. They jumped him. He fought to stay out. His stepfather, Jessie Adams, a retired LAPD and Inglewood police officer, recalled talking about it often. "I'd tell him, keep it up, just keep it up," he said.

-- Jill Leovy

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