Disgraced comedian Bill Cosby may be behind bars, but that does not mean he is oblivious to what’s taking place outside of his cell walls. Long before charges were brought against him, Cosby was known as “America’s Dad” for his portrayal of a doting father on The Cosby Show. It’s a title Cosby also held dear in his personal life as a father of five. Unfortunately, Cosby lost his beloved son, Ennis Cosby, during an attack that was later discovered to be racially motivated. Cosby is reflecting on his son’s death as celebrities take part in protests throughout the country following the death of George Floyd.
Bill Cosby’s son was killed during an attempted robbery
Bill and Ennis were extremely close. As Bill’s only son, Ennis is said to be the inspiration for the character of Theo Huxtable, Cosby’s son on The Cosby Show. Cosby openly doted on his children and was proud of their accomplishments, particularly Ennis, who was a graduate student in special education at Columbia University Teachers College.
While vacationing in LA in 1997, Ennis pulled over on a local freeway to change a flat tire. Simultaneously, he was approached by a Ukrainian-born teenager, Mikhail Markhasev, and two of Markhasev’s friends. Markhasev brandished a gun and demanded that Ennis hand over his cash. Shaken, Ennis couldn’t give him the money fast enough and was shot and killed by Markhasev.
Ennis was 28-years-old at the time of his death. Bill told reporters in the aftermath of the tragedy that Ennis was his hero. Bill told Variety that he was confident the LAPD would find and prosecute the assailant.
In 1999, Markhasev was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He pleaded not guilty at the time and appealed the court’s ruling but had a change of heart in 2001 when he confessed his guilt, ceased his appeal, and apologized to the Cosby family.
Bill Cosby reflects on his son’s racially motivated murder as protests take place around the country
As protests continue around the country, and throughout the world, Cosby’s legal team released a statement on his behalf with Cosby empathizing with millions of people’s frustration.
“When I think about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other Black people murdered by Racial Hatred, I could not help but think about my son, Ennis, who was also brutally murdered,” an Instagram post read in part. “Before Racial Hatred shot our beloved Ennis in the head and abruptly ended his life, this raging inferno of Racial Hatred stated, “Die N——R ” before he pulled the trigger.”
At the time of Markhasev’s trial, ABC News reported later that prosecutors relied heavily on jailhouse letters that implicated Markhasev, where he allegedly confessed to the killing and that it was due to Ennis being African American. “I shot the n****r … I went to rob a [drug] connection and obviously found something else,” one of the letters allegedly read.
Though Cosby understands the pain, he is calling for peaceful protests and for police to not fight back with bodily harm and use of tear gas. Cosby views what’s occurring as an opportunity for true change.