As a grieving mother struggled to accept her son’s unlawful, undeserved, and inhumane murder, she was reminded of something: her faith.
The following story explores how this noble mom came to a conclusion that many in her position would be unable or unwilling to do. The manner in which she handled her son’s killers was something courtroom veterans had never seen before in their lives…
On June 28, 2015, Suliman Abdul-Mutakallim was shot in the back of his head, as he was walking home, carrying food for himself and his wife. It happened under a highway overpass in South Cumminsville, just as he was leaving White Castle.
Three Young Teens
Police say that there were three robbers involved, one of them, Javon Coulter, who was only 14-years-old at the time. Javon was seen on surveillance video pulling money from the front pocket of his pants right after the shooting…
A Killing For Less Than $60?
Suliman, the 39-year-old Navy veteran, also known by many as “Sam,” was still alive after being shot, lying face-down on the pavement and bleeding. His wallet contained less than $60. When police examined the surveillance video, it showed Javon hand money to the other two teens.
One was 17-year-old Valentino Pettis and police believe the third person was a man in his 20s. After they shot him, Javon, Valentino, and the third person walked down the street, taking the food with them. Suliman’s mother, Rukiye immediately rushed to Suliman’s bedside at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center…
“Until I See You Again”
Rukiye, a native of North Carolina, and a devout Muslim, who converted in her late teens, recalled the moment Suliman (the youngest of her three biological children), died in his hospital bed. She was holding his hand as she whispered to her son, “Until I see you again.” Rukiye says her religion teaches that there is no goodbye.
To this day, Rukiye still remembers that image of her dying son and for the past couple of years, her grief is constant. At a court hearing more than two years after her son’s murder, on November 2, 2017, Rukiye did something that courtroom veterans said they’ve never seen before…
A Hug For The Enemy?
After asking Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Megan Shanahan for permission, Rukiye walked right up to Javon, who’d just admitted involvement in her son’s death, and hugged him. She also embraced Javon’s mother.
She Has Already Forgiven
Rukiye said she thinks about this way, “They have been infected by a disease, but are young…They can be cured.” She says vengeance solves nothing, it won’t bring back her son. Rukiye had spent the past two years suffering and she believes she’s only made it to this point because she’s already forgiven. Now, she wants to help the teens…
A Different Meaning To Her Son’s Death
Rukiye wanted the teens to know she could see beyond the act that took her son’s life. She also pledged to do everything possible to make Javon a better man. “His death was already ordained,” Rukiye told Javon. “Maybe the purpose is to save your life.” Rukiye, who is now 66, said her son’s killers are children who also have mothers, like herself.
They’re Just Kids
“These young men, although they took my son’s life in the manner they did, we need to fight for them. Because they are going to come back out. And they will be older. But if they have no light, then this same disease is going to repeat itself and they are going to take another person’s child’s life and eventually their own.” Rukiye continued saying…
“A Fair Chance At Life”
“We have to fight for them to see that there is a better life…and then they have to fight to get to where that better life is.” Javon’s mother, Malyyka Bonner, was blown away by Rukiye’s gesture and overwhelming kind offer that she extended to the entire Bonner family.
A Gesture From The Heart
While in court, not only did Rukiye hug Javon and Bonner, but also Bonner’s other children and immediate family. Still, Bonner understands that her son needs to be punished for what happened, saying, “A wrong’s been done.” But, she remembers that night very vividly. On most nights, she would go out and look for Javon and Valentino (Javon’s cousin), but the night of the shooting was different…
Living Under One Roof
At the time, Bonner, Javon, and his brother and sister were living in her mother’s house in Millvale. Bonner and her children shared two rooms and her mother also lived in the house, along with Bonner’s sister, uncle, and Valentino, who is her cousin.
Javon Felt Mentally Unstable
Bonner said that Javon has always been big for his age, as he was born prematurely weighing more than 8 lbs. She described her son as a quiet boy who kept to himself and loved playing video games, but his health issues began in his teens. Javon even learned to call 911 when he was feeling mentally unstable…
He’d say he was going to kill himself, and police would pick him up and take him to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital psychiatric unit. Bonner claims that happened four or five times. Soon, Javon began sneaking out of the house with his cousin Valentino, who was a bad influence.
They’re Going To Learn A Lesson Tonight
Usually, Bonner would go out and look for them, but on the night of the shooting, she didn’t. She was simply tired of chasing after them. Bonner told her sister, “‘Whatever lesson they gonna learn, they’re gonna have to learn it tonight, because I’m not gonna get ‘em.’” Javon shouldn’t have been out of the house that night, she said, it was a Sunday…
The case against Javon and Valentino began in juvenile court, but both teens were transferred to adult court on murder charges. Both pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and Javon also pleaded guilty to robbery.
Fearful Of The System
Bonner fears for her son and she doesn’t want the system to throw him away, which is similar to the concerns Rukiye has. Bonner fears that when he is released from prison, he will still be a boy, without having had sufficient education, job training and, treatment. “That’s what they gonna send me home with, a 14-year-old body in the body of a man in his 30s,” Bonner said. Rukiye, however, is focused on helping Javon and Valentino…
Heart Of Gold
Rukiye is retired and has worked in the banking industry for years. Since 2014, she has been a disaster response team volunteer with Islamic Relief. She even went to Houston to lend a helping hand after Hurricane Harvey. She believes the boys “weren’t given a fair chance at life.”
She thinks about both teens knowing they have come from a person who is a mother just like her. With permission from their mothers, Rukiye wants to become an advocate for them and visit them regularly while they are in prison. She wishes to help them get an education and to try “find a solution that will put a light in these young men’s lives for their future.”