What put a white cop and a black youth on a tragic collision course? This moving account is more timely than ever.
On a frigid winter’s night in 1973, William Rabbit” Wells, a young man of mixed race, was shot and killed by a white policeman named William Sorgie outside a bar in Bernardsville, New Jersey. The shooting, later ruled an accident, stunned local residents and the nation.
For thirty years, author William Loizeaux, who went to high school with Rabbit, hasn’t been able to forget what happened. With clear-eyed compassion and unsparing honesty, The Shooting of Rabbit Wells re-creates the lives of both victim and killer, and the forces that brought them together. At the story’s center is Rabbit Wells himself. Part African-American, part Cherokee, part white, Rabbit never knew his father and was neglected by his mother. Here is a memoir, a biography, and the story of a writer’s search for the scattered remains of a catastrophe. A stirring and powerful document, it is also a work of terrible beauty: by giving us the life of Rabbit Wells, Loizeaux makes us understandand feelhow unacceptable and irreparable the loss was, and how deeply the bullet that killed him is lodged in the American identity.
William Loizeaux grew up in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, is the author of Anna: A Daughter’s Life and the novel A Tumble Inn, and works for children. He lives with his wife in Boston, where he is Writer-in-Residence at Boston University.