On September 19, a white man fatally shot a Black man in Oregon allegedly because the Black man complimented his girlfriend. He was initially arrested on one charge of second-degree manslaughter and released on bail before a Deschutes County grand jury indicted him on a total of six charges Thursday and he was held without bond.
According to ABC 9 News, 27-year-old Ian Mackenzie Cranston is now charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon in the shooting death of 22-year-old Barry Washington Jr. in downtown Bend. Cranston, who is currently being held at Deschutes County Jail, did not enter a plea when he appeared in court Friday, but his attorney, Kevin Sali, appears to be claiming his client shot Washington in self-defense, not because he was upset a Black man was trying to move on his girlfriend.
“Indisputable video evidence shows that before Ian Cranston ever drew his weapon, Barry Washington had assaulted him without provocation, resulting in head injuries that required the police to take Mr. Cranston to the hospital where a brain scan and other procedures had to be performed,” Sali said in a statement.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel appears to agree there was a physical altercation before the shooting, but he disputes the notion that it happened “without provocation.”
Hummel had previously told reporters that there was “no allegation that anything Mr. Washington did was inappropriate,” and that “he complimented her in a respectful manner.” Despite this, Hummel said Cranstopn was “not happy.”
“He said some words to Mr. Washington. Mr. Washington said some words back,” Hummel said. “There was some pushing, some jostling, some punches thrown, but then it calmed down. It was not going to get out of hand. Then Mr. Cranston pulled a gun out of his waistband and shot and killed Mr. Washington.”
While Hummel did not seek any hate crime charges, because there’s no evidence currently that indicates the shooting was racially motivated, he did address the white supremacist elephant in the room in pointing out America’s long history of Black men being lynched or otherwise attacked simply for speaking to white women.
“It is believed that the initial interaction between Barry and Mr. Cranston began when Barry complimented Mr. Cranston’s girlfriend,” Hummel said. “Our country has a disgraceful history of denigrating, prosecuting and lynching Black men for talking to White women. Over the last week, literally hundreds of people called and emailed me to remind me of this history.”
Hummel also said that “if we obtain sufficient evidence to prove that this shooting was at least partially motivated by race, we will go back to that grand jury and ask them to add the charge.”
Sali, of course, took issue with the mere mention of race saying, “After the evidence comes out at trial, I trust someone will ask the district attorney why he deliberately inflamed the community with statements he knew were not supported by any evidence.”