Skateboarder Terry Kennedy charged with murder; victim’s family sues

Josiah Kassahun's family is now suing the sports star for wrongful death

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Professional skateboarder Terry Kennedy has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a California man in July.

Kennedy, 36, of Long Beach, California, reportedly viciously assaulted 23-year-old Josiah Kassahun at an Illinois motel last Tuesday. Kennedy is accused of punching Kassahun in the face so hard that he fell to the ground, landing on his head. Kennedy then kicked him in the torso and did not get medical attention for the victim after the attack, TMZ Sports reports. 

It’s unclear what prompted the assault at the Comfort Suites on Roosevelt Road in Oakbrook Terrace. According to reports, Kassahun, also a skateboarder, and Kennedy were friends at one time. Kennedy allegedly told arresting officers: “I will kill one of you police. We kill police where I’m from,” a police spokesperson told TMZ.

Terry Kennedy (left) Getty Images, Josiah Kassahun (GoFund Me)

He also mentioned a 2017 cop-killing in Whittier, California, saying, “We killed ya’ll in Whittier, California. We killed ya’ll b— a—.”

Kassahun suffered a fractured skull and a concussion, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. He died on July 31 from the injuries. His family is now suing Kennedy for wrongful death, TMZ reports. 

A GoFundMe has been launched by a family friend to memorialize Kassahun, according to the post.

“Josiah was and will always be remembered as the perfect friend to everyone who had the good fortune of meeting him. He was loved and had much love to give and he will be dearly missed by an infinite number of people,” a statement on the campaign page reads. “In these trying times we ask that you help by donating to ease financial burden the family is experiencing as well as to create a memorial for him. All proceeds from this GoFundMe will go directly to the family.”

Kennedy was charged with first-degree murder on Monday. He is reportedly being held without bail until a court hearing next week. He could face up to life behind bars if convicted.

The famed pro skateboarder has been featured in music videos by Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams.

Terry Kennedy mugshot (DuPage state attorney’s office)

As theGrio previously reported Kennedy first started skateboarding at 14 in Long Beach’s Cherry Park as a way to escape the gang violence in his community. By 18, he signed on to Pharrell’s skate team, Ice Cream Skating. After years treating skateboarding more as a hobby than a career path, Kennedy got serious about the extreme sport when he was shot twice, in the jaw and forearm, while leaving a Long Beach nightclub in 2005.

He would later say that he did not know why he was targeted.

“I seen it when it happened, the whole thing,” Kennedy said, according to MTV. “I seen a n— shooting and I swear it was like ‘The Matrix.’ I seen the bullets flying through the air, then hit me in the jaw. What got me mad was the n—- was shooting from far away. I’m like, ‘This n— is not no police officer, don’t nobody have that much aim to hit me dead in the jaw.’ ”

Despite his injuries, Kennedy was able to drive himself to the hospital. 

“As I’m driving to the hospital, I was like, ‘Of all places, why the jaw?’” he recalled. “I don’t have a reason for getting shot in the mouth. I didn’t do nothing to nobody. I’m a skateboarder, I’m not on rap songs dissin’ n—- or nothing. Why would someone have something against me? If you have something against me, you’re just jealous. I’m doing a sport that don’t nobody mainly do that’s Black. You obviously gotta be hating.”

As his popularity in the skateboarding scene soared, Kennedy snagged sponsorships from several skate-culture brands. He also launched his own clothing, sneaker, and sunglasses lines.

In 2010, he starred in a reality series on BET, Being Terry Kennedy, showing him balancing family and life as an up-and-coming mogul.

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