Retired Trenton cop donates money to local father, plans to start non-profit
When Kim Bellamy was 14 years old he started street hustling to earn extra cash.
A few years later, while still in high school, Bellamy’s first child was born, and he realized that he needed to find a job that paid more than what he earned on the streets. So, Bellamy decided to transfer from Trenton Central High School to Daylight/Twilight, where he could attend morning classes, leaving him free to start work in the early afternoon. But as Bellamy tried to navigate the process of transferring schools, he decided to drop out completely so that he could work full-time and support his family.
At the time that Bellamy dropped out of high school, he was a senior and only needed five more credits to graduate. Today, at the age of 27, Bellamy still does not have a high school diploma. But he has finally enrolled in Daylight/Twilight, where he attends adult classes. He is scheduled to graduate this spring.
“For me to pursue my career, I need to earn my diploma and get my life right,” Bellamy said.
Bellamy now has two daughters, ages nine and four, and he’s been married for about five years. Bellamy said he and his family sometimes struggle financially, but he believes things will turn around after he earns a high school diploma. He plans to pursue a career in residential and commercial painting.
Retired Trenton Police Sergeant Luddie Austin recently learned about Bellamy’s situation after he decided to mentor a local young father who is trying to turn his life around. Austin posted his intentions on his Facebook page and some of his followers told him about Bellamy. On Wednesday evening, the two met and Austin presented Bellamy with a monetary and food donation.
“This is something that I wanted to do to honor my son’s legacy,” Austin said. “I understand that sometimes it can be hard out here for young fathers who are trying to do the right thing; they get discouraged. I just want to be a positive influence in their lives and help keep them on the right path. As long as they continue to do the right thing, good things will come from it.”
Austin’s son, James Austin, was shot and killed on Feb. 26, 2013; he left behind two young daughters. A day after the murder, Robert Bartley and Raheem Currie were arrested in connection with Austin’s death.
According to court documents, witnesses told police that Currie was driving along East State Street when he saw James Austin and decided to stop the car and start a fight. During the fight, witnesses said, Austin broke the windshield of Currie’s car. In return, Currie broke the rear windshield of Austin’s car. Austin then went into a residence in the 900 block of East State Street, and Currie drove away.
Witnesses said that after driving away, Currie called Bartley and told him about the altercation. Currie then picked up Bartley from Monmouth Street, and they drove back to see Austin. During the drive, according to witnesses, Bartley stated that he was going to “spray the house” with bullets.
Witnesses said that when they arrived at the house, Bartley exited the vehicle, walked up to the house, opened the door and started arguing with Austin. Then, moments later, Bartley shot Austin once in the chest.
In September last year, Bartley pled guilty to aggravated manslaughter. Currie, meanwhile, is out on bail after pleading innocent to murder and conspiracy charges.
“Currie is trying to play like he is not culpable in any way,” Luddie Austin said. “But his direct actions caused my son’s death. He should be held just as much responsible (as Bartley).”
Luddie Austin is now in the process of establishing a non-profit organization so he can continue helping young fathers who are trying to walk a straight and narrow path through life. Austin said he has received overwhelming support from locals who want to support his mission. In fact, the donation he gave to Bellamy included donations from others who contacted him through Facebook.
“It’s a way for me to remember my son’s legacy in a positive way,” Austin said. “It helps me heal and gives me inner peace to be able to help someone else.”
Luddie Austin, who was also 17 years old when he learned that he was going to be a father, plans to continue mentoring Bellamy in any way that he can, whether it be with career advice, job training, or help with college applications.
Bellamy said he regrets dropping out of high school, but he’s excited to now have a mentor who understands the struggles of kids living in urban cities.
“It took me 10 years to get where I needed to be at 10 years ago; I do regret that,” Bellamy said. “But I learned from it, I grew from it and I realized that street hustling is not for me. Stay focused and continue your education because without knowledge you can’t live out here.”