A family was grief-stricken after a Black teen was killed in a fatal shooting in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday. Devonte Ortiz, a 19-year-old African-American, was shot to death by a white man during a dispute over fireworks on the Fourth of July.
Jason Roche, 41, was booked into Travis County Jail on Friday for first-degree murder charges in the killing of Ortiz, an A/B Honor Roll student and star football player at Travis High School, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Roche admitted to shooting Ortiz, but claimed it was self-defense and blamed the teen for his own death. However, video taken of the shooting didn’t match Roche’s version of events, with the clip already dismantling his argument.
Roche’s weak defense was similar to that of George Zimmerman, the volunteer neighborhood watchman who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012 in Sanford Florida. A state Stand Your Ground law become synonymous with Zimmerman’s trial though he argued self-defense like Roche.
What happened Ortiz followed that of other fatal shooting of Black teens. Ortiz and his friends were lighting up fireworks as many people do the Fourth of July when he was confronted by Roche who asked him to stop playing with the pyrotechnics in a parking lot near an apartment complex in southeast Austin. Roche left the teens but then came back a second time to confront them, leading to a physical dispute. Roche pointed a gun at the teen, who was not holding a weapon, the video showed. The teen was then shot, with cops finding him with a gunshot wound before he died at a local hospital.
Ortiz had begun moving away from Roche’s weapon before the fatal shots were fired, police said in an affidavit. However, Roche still said that the teen reached for a gun, which made him shoot — statements later proven false by video and consistent with irrational fears white people routinely have toward people of color.
Family and community members were scheduled to honor Ortiz’s life at Friday evening at the Travis High School. A GoFundMe page has been launched for Ortiz.