One of the founding members of a dance crew credited with developing ‘The Harlem Shake’ phenomenon was found slain his New York home last month.
Jesse ‘Smiley’ Rutland died at Kings County Hospital on December 10 after an assailant broke into his Brooklyn home on Glenwood Road near Brooklyn Ave. in East Flatbush and shot him to death, according to investigators.
Police said that Kumar Reid, 29, was placed into custody on the same day of the incident and was being held at the Kings County Jail.
Reid was later charged with second-degree murder in the case. His defense attorney, Jay Schwitzman, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf at his Supreme Court arraignment on Friday, according to The New York Daily News.
Rutland, 37, was a part of the Crazy Boyz Dance Crew, the group credited with kicking off the world wide dance phenomenon the ‘Harlem Shake” that dominated hip-hop videos and armature YouTube clips during the early 2010s.
Originally started in the 1980s, the dance involves mostly upper-body gyrations based on an Ethiopian dance called Eskista.
The dance became mainstream in 2001 when featured the Harlem shake in his music video ‘Let’s Get It.’
The ‘Harlem Shake’ late found a second life as an Internet meme online, with searches producing countless videos and images for the term.
Maurice Strayhorn, founding member of the dance crew, posted a heartfelt message to the ‘Original Harlem Shakers’ Facebook page on December 16, lamenting the loss of his friend.
‘My beloved brother and one of the Original Founding Members of the group Crazy Boyz (Go Crazy Boyz) creators of the dance craze The Harlem Shake …Jesse “Smiley” Rutland has been senselessly murdered on in his home with his children nearby,’ Strayhor wrote.
‘He was shot at 7.35am. His 6 year old son attempted to revive him and ran out in the snow seeking help from a neighbor. Unfortunately my beloved beautiful brother passed away at 8.30am at Kings County Hospital Sunday Morning,’ the post added.
A cursory search for ‘Harlem Shake’ videos turn up clips and images that have garnered millions of views worldwide, a testament to the huge popularity of the dance sensation.
Motive for the shooting still remains unknown. Rutland leaves behind a wife and young son.