Two men were found guilty of second-degree murder charges in the February 2013 shooting death of 26-year-old Courtney Jackson at the Dudley MBTA station, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.
Jamel Bannister, 24, and Brian Cooper, 27, were both sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years for killing Jackson, according to the DA’s office. Cooper pleaded guilty to second-degree murder while Bannister was convicted by a jury.
Bannister and Cooper faced first-degree murder charges in Jackson’s death but were found guilty of second-degree murder instead. A first-degree murder conviction in Massachusetts results in a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
According to the DA’s office, Cooper and Bannister engaged in a verbal altercation with Jackson. As Jackson turned to board a bus, Cooper shot him twice.
Camera footage showed Bannister pulling out an object from his side at the same time. While fleeing from police who were stationed nearby and heard the shots, Bannister threw a .45 semiautomatic firearm over a fence, the DA’s statement said.
A 2013 Boston Globe article following the murder detailed the incident:
In court, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney David Fredette told Judge David Poole that Cooper and Bannister were at Dudley Station, a major public transit hub in Roxbury, around 9:50 p.m. Thursday.
MBTA surveillance cameras in the station and on an MBTA bus captured the crime as it happened, Fredette said. He said the two men are shown having some interaction with Jackson. Then, Cooper can be seen pulling out a firearm and shooting Jackson, while Bannister stands nearby, armed with his own handgun.
“It is about as callous, cowardly and brazen an incident as I’ve seen in my time doing this job,” said Fredette. “This defendant pointed a gun not only at the victim in this case, but at a crowd of people who were just waiting to get on the bus at 9:45 on a Thursday night.”
During Bannister’s sentencing in April, Jackson’s mother and girlfriend delivered victim impact statements. Cooper was sentenced in May.
“It was the worst thing in my life I’ve been through,” Jackson’s mother said, according to a DA press release. “Nothing in this world prepares you for losing your child.”
The Boston Globe further detailed the impact of Jackson’s murder during Bannister’s sentencing.
Jackson’s girlfriend, Dominika Taylor, said she spoke to Courtney Jackson by phone while he was waiting for the bus at Dudley Square Station. Taylor, who was at home with her daughter, Zalesha, told Jackson the Route 28 bus would arrive in three minutes.
“Three short minutes,” Taylor, 28, said. “I just want to show how short an amount of time something can be taken away. [The bus] was coming in three minutes.”
After ending the call, Taylor said she looked at her Twitter feed and learned there had been a shooting at the Roxbury bus depot.
“I call him immediately and he doesn’t answer,” Taylor said. “I just knew it was him.”
For more background, including older press releases from the district attorney’s office, read this April 2014 Homicide Watch Boston post.
The Suffolk DA’s press release following Bannister’s sentencing follows:
BOSTON, April 23, 2015—The Dorchester man convicted yesterday of his role in the 2013 murder of 26-year-old Courtney Jackson was sentenced today to life in prison, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
JAMEL BANNISTER (D.O.B. 10/7/90) was sentenced today following his conviction yesterday of second-degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm. The murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison but allows judicial discretion to set parole eligibility beginning after a term of anywhere from 15 to 25 years. Assistant District Attorney David Fredette recommended that Bannister serve a term of life in prison with parole eligibility after 20 years and a consecutive term of four to five years on the firearm charge. Judge Richard Welch sentenced Bannister to life with the possibility of parole after 15 years and a term of four to five years to be served concurrently.
Bannister’s co-defendant, BRIAN COOPER (D.O.B. 1/19/88) of Mattapan, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder earlier this month and will face sentencing May 5. Both had been indicted for first-degree murder.
“There’s a saying that the truth always comes out, but the truth of this case would have been much harder to reveal without the tremendous assistance of the MBTA public safety cameras that captured Mr. Jackson’s killers. It would have been much harder to prove without the police investigators who gathered that footage according to the rules of evidence. And it would have been impossible without the prosecutors who built the case piece by piece, witness by witness, fairly and ethically to withstand the scrutiny of the jury and our appellate courts.”
At trial, Fredette presented evidence and testimony to prove that at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 28, 2013, Bannister accompanied Cooper to the Dudley MBTA station, where they became involved in a verbal altercation with Jackson. Footage from MBTA public safety cameras at the station showed Cooper pulling out a firearm and shooting Jackson twice as the victim, who had recently gotten off of one bus, turned to board another.
The footage also depicts Bannister pulling something from his pocket at that same time that Cooper produced a firearm; additional video footage shows him holding something to his side as he fled.
Two Boston Police officers working a detail nearby heard the gunshots and rushed to the area to see the two men running from the scene. Cooper surrendered to officers and was found to be in possession of a firearm.
Bannister continued to flee from officers and was taken into custody in the area of Madison Park Court. A .45 semiautomatic firearm was found tossed over a fence along his path of flight.
Before the sentence was imposed, Welch heard impact statements delivered by Jackson’s mother and girlfriend, who was pregnant with Jackson’s daughter at the time he was killed.
“It was the worst thing in my life I’ve been through,” Jackson’s mother said. “Nothing in this world prepares you for losing your child.
Timothy Munzert was the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocate. Bannister was represented by John Tardif.