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Cosby asks for 'dignity' after son's murder

scene January 17, 1997
Web posted at: 12:15 a.m. EST

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Actor Bill Cosby's family wants "a sense of dignity" in the aftermath of the murder of Cosby's 27-year-old son Ennis William Cosby, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Thursday night.

Speaking live on CNN as a spokesman for the Cosby family, Jackson said the Cosbys hoped they would be left alone "during this period of awesome and shocking grief."


Jackson said the Cosbys were distressed by "grotesque" pictures on television and in newspapers of their son's body lying in a pool of blood. He said they also objected to reports describing the suspect being sought by police.

"They didn't want 'White man kills black' to incite racial polarization," Jackson said. "It doesn't matter what color the killer is. They want the Los Angeles Police Department to pursue the killer and bring him to justice."

Ennis Cosby, the only son of Bill and Camille Cosby, was killed by an unidentified gunman early Thursday as he stopped to change a tire near the Mullholland exit of the San Diego Freeway.

Robbery the apparent motive

His body was found beside his dark green Mercedes-Benz convertible. A tire iron was lying nearby. Police described the neighborhood of the attack as "very peaceful, very expensive homes, very little crime."

Robbery was the apparent motive for the attack, according to investigators, although nothing appears to have been taken. Investigators say there is a witness to at least some of the incident.

A police spokesman described Bill Cosby as "extremely upset" but "very coherent" when he was told of his son's death.

The 59-year-old star of film and television was grim but composed when reporters met him outside his apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

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"He was my hero," Cosby said before entering the building.

'I loved him'

Ennis Cosby overcame dyslexia to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, and then earned a master's degree in special education at Columbia University. According to a spokesman for the school, he was studying for his doctorate and spent his last day at the college on December 18 tutoring a boy with learning disabilities.

He was due to return to campus next week when classes resume.

"He was my friend and I loved him," actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner told Reuters. Warner played Cosby's son Theo Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," the hit NBC series that ran from 1984 to 1992.


Bill Cosby -- one of America's most popular comedians -- appealed to the Los Angeles Police Department to do "anything possible" to catch his son's killer, according to a spokesman.

In a statement released early Thursday, Cosby said, "Our hearts go out to each and every family that such an incident occurs to. This is a life experience that's truly difficult to share."

Family a source of humor for Cosby

Cosby was in New York for the taping of his CBS series, "Cosby," but those plans were put on hold as Bill and Camille Cosby and an unidentified woman left New York Thursday night for California.

Cosby has long used family and fatherhood as a rich source of humor in his TV series, books and standup comedy. He and his wife also have four daughters: Erika, Erinn, Ensa and Evinn.

Actor James Earl Jones was among those who offered their condolences to the family. "I'm shocked and deeply saddened, and I send my deepest sympathies to the Cosby family."

Reuters contributed to this report.


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