Two-year-old Jamir Shipe. (Courtesy Photo)
On May 22, 2013, two-year-old Jamir Shipe was under the care of Clifton Bernard, 28, while Shipe’s mother was at work. During this time Bernard was in a romantic relationship with Jamir’s mother.
While Bernard was watching Jamir, he became angry with him and began to assault him by smashing the boy’s head through the apartment’s drywall. The impact of the injury caused the boy to suffer severe head trauma, including broken bones in his face and head and total respiratory failure. The boy died from head injuries the following day.
On July 24, the Suitland resident was sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder and child abuse.
Police told the AFRO that Bernard actually admitted to shoving Jamir’s head through the wall. After Bernard was arrested, he was diagnosed with a mental illness, and said that he did not intend to harm the child. He said his actions were based off of his emotions.
However, according to Angela Alsobrooks, Prince George’s County state’s attorney, Bernard moved the furniture around in the apartment to hide the hole created from the boy’s head, which illustrated that he knew what he was doing.
Bernard’s sentencing happened in the same week as Alsobrooks announced the launch of the Family Violence and Special Victims Unit. This unit will have the responsibility of handling traditional felony and misdemeanor domestic violence cases between intimate partners, sexual assault, child sexual and physical abuse, and elder physical abuse. It was formed through the combination of the office’s Domestic Violence Unit and Child Abuse/Sexual Assault Team, which handled these kinds of cases previously.
“This unit will be an asset to our office and to the residents of Prince George’s County,” Christina Ropella, assistant state’s attorney in the Family Violence and Special Victim’s Unit, said in a news release on July 20. “In the past we have had victims of domestic violence come to our office and in the course of our investigation, we learn that there is a child in the home who is also a victim of abuse. That child would then be referred to the Child Abuse/Sexual Assault Team, but now we have a one-stop-shop and a streamlined process to be able to service every member of the family.”