Controversial Richmond program pays people to turn lives around

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- The mother of a Hercules man shot and killed is outraged that the man charged with his death was receiving money from a controversial program meant to help people turn their lives around.

The man's mother Yolanda Ficklin-Prothro recently buried her son JaVont-e. He was 29-years-old.

"This is really hard, it's really, really hard," Ficklin-Prothro said. "He gave to everybody, anybody needed anything, he would give it to you."

Richmond police got the call September 19. JaVont-e was slumped over the wheel of his car. Police arrested 19-year-old Dawaun Rice. He's charged with JaVont-e's murder. Rice had been a fellow in the Richmond Office Of Neighborhood Safety.

"The Office of Neighborhood Safety was created to interrupt, disrupt, reduce and stop shootings," said founder DeVone Boggan.

Boggan says the program mentors young men, helps them get jobs and pays them for their work. The program also pays the men an allowance up to $1,000 a month for meeting certain life-map goals. Boggan says taxpayer money goes to the program's overhead and staffing costs, while the allowance is funded by private donations.

"You didn't take their guns. You were giving them money to buy more guns. To me that's what the payment was. Yes, you trained them to do jobs, but it's a whole bunch of these people, it's not just that one," said Ficklin-Prothro.

Marrico Williams, 19, was also an Office of Neighborhood Safety Fellow. Williams is one of six men currently facing charges in connection with a string of East Bay home invasions in Danville, Livermore and Fremont.

The Contra Costa County Deputy distinct attorney says the six men are suspected Swerve gang members.

Back at the Prothro home, JaVont-e's family is hoping his passing will have purpose.

"He was blessed in the wrong environment," said his brother James Prothro II.

"He was in that bracket between 15 and 30, which is crucial in the black community," said his father James Prothro.

It's a bracket critics and supporters of the Office of Neighborhood Safety say needs to be reached.

Boggan says the majority of his 84 fellows are on track and doing well. He says as of March 1, he's no longer a city employee. He says he created a new organization to replicate the Office of Neighborhood Safety nationally.

Click here to donate to a GoFundMe account for homicide victim JaVont-e.

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