Killing of Black man by white neighbour ruled ‘justifiable homicide’

‘The family is distraught. They were promised the evidence, and what they ended up with was seeing their son being vilified’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Thursday 13 January 2022 04:33 GMT
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‘It doesn’t seem like a two-sided investigation’: Father of black man shot dead in Missouri 

The death of a Black and Filipino man at a trailer park in Bourbon, Missouri has been ruled a “justifiable homicide” following months of outrage from the community.

Justin King, 28, was fatally shot on 3 November last year about 75 miles (121 km) southwest of St Louis.

A jury of six residents from the county were shown evidence and listened to witnesses at the Crawford County Courthouse to aid the coroner in determining how Mr King died.

The jury’s decision came months following his death after his family and other residents at the trailer park publically disagreed with the police’s telling of what happened.

After a proceeding that lasted from 9am to 6pm, the panel found that the shooting had been justified, according to the president of the Missouri NAACP, Nimrod Chapel Jr, who represents the King family.

The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office initially alleged that Mr King was killed after “forcing entry into a neighbouring residence”, prompting the owner of the home to fear “for his life”.

But according to Mr Chapel, Mr King was killed outside of the home and didn’t go inside.

“The family is distraught. They were promised the evidence, and what they ended up with was seeing their son being vilified,” Mr Chapel said, NBC News reported.

“They do not accept the findings of the coroner’s jury and have great issues with the process and the manner in which that finding was found and has been articulated,” he added.

Mr Chapel said the neighbour was not present at the inquest and that he and the family will carry on seeking justice.

The neighbour hasn’t been identified because he hasn’t been charged with a crime. He told NBC News: “It’s a horrible situation.”

Missouri has “castle doctrine” legislation stating that homeowners are allowed to use deadly force to protect themselves in their own homes and don’t have a duty to step back. The law is based on the idea that their home is “their castle”.

The family of Mr King has marched and protested along with other local residents, demanding justice for the 28-year-old. His family said he moved to Bourbon to be close to his daughter and multiple neighbours said Mr King was friends with the shooter. Several trailer park residents also said they heard gunshots on 3 November and saw Mr King laying on the ground outside the neighbour’s home.

“The only person that says it’s a home invasion is the guy that shot my son,” Mr King’s father, John King, has stated. “And all the neighbours are saying, ‘No, you shot him in cold blood outside.’”

The father has also said that his son was the only Black person living in the trailer park and that he believes the shooting was a case of “racially motivated hate”.

“This is a pattern of conduct that we see in rural Missouri. There’s a reluctance to hold assailants accountable when the victims are Black,” Mr Chapel said on Tuesday. “It’s a terrible reality that we have here in Missouri.”

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