An open letter to the losers who murdered my friend
Two stone-cold killers will beg for lower bail today in the courtroom of Judge Chris M. Brown.
This is a copy of the letter sent to the bailiff of Franklin County Judge Chris M. Brown ahead of today’s bail hearing. A copy of the letter has also been mailed to Chrystian Foster & Dwayne Cummings at the Franklin County Correctional Institute.
Chrystian Foster & Dwayne Cummings —
My name is D.J. Byrnes. Neither of you knows me. But, unfortunately, I know of you two because on Sept. 5th, 2022, you sucker-punched one of my best friends, beat him to death on High Street, and then bragged about your barbaric act in the comments of your friend’s Facebook post.
What’s truly galling is that you ruined your lives in defense of your boss’ sidewalk while working as security at Julep Bar, a well-known public nuisance in the Short North.
I can see why my friend, Greg Coleman Jr., offended you two. He was everything you aren’t. Suave, sophisticated and successful. And he died as he lived: Chatting with beautiful women.
That’s why you tried to run him off for the crime of standing on the sidewalk and eating a gyro—mere blocks from where he worked at a job that didn’t depend on intimidating strangers with threats of physical violence.
I’m not sure what you said to provoke him. Whatever that may be, we all know he would have whipped either of your asses in any legal fight.
That is why you, Chrystian, never threw a real punch after Greg put up his hands to defend himself after being followed down the street by two on-the-clock bouncers and their videographer.
You were used to your presence intimidating people. Yet Greg was many things, and being scared was never one of them.
You sensed that Greg, a state-champion high school wrestler and collegiate football player, had handled chumps much bigger than you in a past life, so you dropped your hands without initiating an actual conflict.
And that’s why you, Dwayne, passed off your illegal handgun to the videographer before laying in wait to sucker punch my friend Greg at the exact second he least expected it.
As cowardly as it was, I can understand a sucker punch, Dwayne.
For all your bravado before and after the murder, you were scared at that moment. That’s why you never had the balls to face Greg in the open—otherwise, it’d have been your friends, if you have any, in my place today.
But what I will never understand is what happened next. Greg slammed his head on the High Street pavement and likely died on impact. But if he didn’t, you two ended his life by continuing the assault as he lay unconscious in the street.
Chrystian, you were particularly gleeful in calling my friend a “bitch” — as if your victory didn’t depend entirely on your friend’s sucker punch.
You then pilfered his pockets of his hard-earned wages and left him to lie in the street. None of your coworkers called 911. Instead, you left him in the street for passersby to photograph as if he was just the latest drunken fool to imbibe too much during a night crawling along High Street.
Would Greg's life have been saved if he had received prompt medical attention? Sadly, we’ll never know, thanks to your actions (and inactions) on that fateful night.
You two might think I hate you.
The truth is, I save my hate for those worthy of it. I actually pity you two.
In my light research into your background, it’s clear that you two were destined for an early violent death or spending a large chunk of your adult life in prison from a very early age.
Let’s start with you, Dwayne.
You have a long and prestigious criminal career that includes charges of driving under suspension, failure to pay child support, assault, carrying a concealed weapon and domestic violence—to name a few.
Chrystian, your record of doing crime and getting away with it is even worse.
You were actively on bail for weapons under disability charge (a felony), and your rap sheet includes having weapons under disability the first time, improperly handling firearms, aggravated menacing, OVI, disorderly conduct, domestic violence, violation of a protection order and aggravated burglary:
No legitimate businesspeople want to hire unrepentant street criminals, which explains how you two came to work for your employers at Julep and their various bars in Columbus, providing “security” to keep their drunken patrons in order as they drank the mind poison that makes humanity more prone to violence in the first place.
All those bars your former bosses own:
Park Street Cantina
Callahan’s Bar & Rooftop
All those establishments and the associated LLCs were recently named in a civil suit brought by Greg’s sister in her late brother’s name. You probably don’t know Greg’s sister, but trust me when I say your greasy bosses’ properties and assets will eventually belong to Greg’s daughter.
Not that that does anything to change either of your current predicaments.
Because what neither of you knows is that Greg and I, in a past life, almost fucked up our own lives. It was a crime involving a drug dealer and not a private citizen, and nothing as heinous as what you two did on tape, but it could have sent us down the long, lonely road that you two currently walk.
I dodged a major bullet because of my white skin and not being near the crime scene. However, despite doing nothing violent, Greg still suffered consequences that he could’ve reduced if he rolled over on me—the last of seven men apprehended in the case.
Our friendship survived all of those troubled times. And from our moment of darkness, Greg rebuilt his life, brick by brick, despite our shared mistake likely costing him an NFL career.
I stayed friends with Greg because I knew him at his core. There was about 15 months in our lives when we spent every waking second of the day together, competing in everything like brothers do. You come to know a man’s soul in that process, and I was lucky enough to see the soul of Greg Coleman Jr. better than anyone outside his immediate family.
He was one of the most energetic people I have ever met. His smile should have been on billboards. He was the type of guy whose energy could control entire rooms. He was beloved by people from all walks of life because Greg looked to learn lessons from all walks of life.
It’s a lesson I try to remember when I think of you, Chrystian and Dwayne. Especially today, as you go before Judge Chris M. Brown in Courtroom 3F at 345 High Street, a mere 2.5 miles from where you both killed my friend.
I could have gone on local television and cried my cracker blue eyes out. Demanded the state acquire a death cocktail and pump it into your veins to still your wicked hearts. I could have volunteered to do it myself.
The hog reporters would have sucked every tear like the parasites they are.
But I am not a Law & Order kind of guy. I am against cash bail precisely because you two unrepentant killers would be walking the streets now if you or your loved ones had enough financial capital to stake ten percent of your $1,000,000 bail with a licensed bondsman.
Not that jail will do either of you any good. You both had plenty of experience with the brutality of the American carceral system. And that did nothing to prevent you from beating my friend to death and publicly bragging about it shortly after that.
But what good would freedom do either of you? Neither of you has shown any ability to behave in any rational or regular way. Instead, you are still proud of inflicting violence on others—you went out of your way to show us on Sept. 5th.
I would let you go despite your barbarism if it brought my friend back. In fact, I would let you go even if your releases ended the American carceral system as we know it.
You two are the living embodiment of how broken that system is.
Given both of your track records, the only thing prison will teach you is how to kill the last remnants of humanity inside you to survive the hellacious conditions in which you cast yourself with your own bloodied hands.
No, neither of you knows me. But you will come to learn my name very well. Because for as long as I am alive, I will be there every step of your journey through our rotted criminal justice system to remind your jailers what you took from civil society in Greg Coleman Jr.
He was my friend. But more importantly, he was a son, a brother, and a father.
Sending you two to prison for the rest of your lives will not fill that void in our community. Unfortunately for you—and it gives me no pleasure to report this—the current system is all we have to prevent you from murdering an innocent civilian in cold blood ever again.
Greg’s daughter deserves to live her life knowing you two are behind bars. I don’t care if I am 98 years old on my deathbed. My nurses will wheel me into your parole board hearing, and I will do my sworn duty to Greg’s daughter to ensure you two die in prison for what you did to her father.
That’s how much his friendship meant to me.
And when the light finally goes out on your two forgettable lives in some decrepit mockery of a criminal rehab facility in rural Ohio, it will be a more noble death than either of you deserve. I guarantee nobody will miss you like they do my friend Greg.
Heavy. God bless you and Greg's family.