I am the proud father of Clint Seymour, a remarkable young man who was killed by a senseless unprovoked running punch to the back of his head in April 2014 at the corner of King and Morris streets.
On April 7, as has been widely reported in the media, a Charleston jury returned a guilty verdict, and Judge Benjamin Culbertson imposed a sentence of 15 years.
Every breath I have had the privilege of taking since that date has been taken as my son’s breath. As I testified at the sentencing hearing, I discovered after his death the following “note” on his cellphone dated, Feb. 22, 2013, at 8:36 p.m: “My dad’s the best guy that ever lived.”
My son would expect “the best guy that ever lived” to write this letter on his behalf to the Charleston community. Please know that he loved this community as a visitor and then as a resident for the last few months of his 27-year life.
The responsibility for Clint’s death rests squarely with the person who viciously punched him in the back of the head. The responsibility for those who love Clint is to attempt to prevent this from happening to another mother’s son.
On Clint’s behalf, permit me first to offer the perspective (shared by Charleston’s revered former Mayor Joe Riley) that more attention must be given to regulating the establishments that can enable drunken behavior.
We know from his autopsy that Clint — fulfilling his pledge to be the designated driver that evening — was completely sober at 1:45 a.m.
Tragically, others were not.
The recently reported increase in police presence is to be commended, but that does not address the cause of the normal Friday night occurrence where reportedly thousands of inebriated young adults pour simultaneously onto the streets.
There are too many establishments serving liquor in a tight corridor. There are too many where young adults know they can slip an employee cash in exchange for limitless beers. There are too many that serve visibly intoxicated customers.
The time has come for the agencies charged with the enforcement of liquor laws to redouble that enforcement activity. Perhaps such enforcement — via criminal or civil actions in court — holding those establishments responsible for the consequences of their actions might modify their behavior.
After all, under the law, every inebriated young adult on a typical Friday night should not have been served alcohol in that condition. And, regardless of the legalities, one would hope that this incident would reinforce the moral duty of those establishments to our community and its visitors.
I also would respectfully offer some advice to the community of young adults in Charleston from my son. As I have stated to the media, the sentencing phase of the trial gave my family a chance to air some words found on Clint’s cellphone after his death: “If you do things for the right reason, you’ll never be wrong.”
Clint’s assailant took a lethal action without even pausing to realize that there was absolutely no “right reason” to do it.
To the young adults of Charleston, Clint is speaking through his cellphone note.
Let’s not act without considering the consequences of our actions. Let’s do things for the “right reasons.” If his assailant had been guided by Clint’s life compass, Clint would be enjoying sunsets from our back porch.
I will be forever grateful to the solicitor’s office for winning this conviction.
I hope that what I have learned from my son’s death has made me a better person. And I hope that people in Charleston can learn from this, too, because we are all in this together.
Any time this happens, the entire community loses.
Jenkins Point Road