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A white man shot a black man dead for paying his girlfriend a ‘respectful’ compliment, prosecutors say, in an incident likened to Jim Crow-era lynchings.
Ian Cranston, 27, was charged with murdering Barry Washington Jr 22, on a street in Bend, Oregon, on September 19, after speaking to Cranston’s girlfriend Allie Butler outside a bar called The Capital.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said: ‘It is believed that the initial interaction between Barry and Mr. Cranston began when Barry complimented Mr. Cranston’s girlfriend,’ Hummel said.
According to Hummel, Butler said she was ‘flattered,’ but in a relationship. That was the extent of the interaction, but Cranston was ‘not happy.’
Hummel said outside later the two men had words, there was some pushing and punches were thrown, but that things had calmed down before Cranston allegedly pulled a gun from his waistband and shot Washington.
Footage said to show the deadly fight was shared on social media, with a man believed to be Washington filmed fighting with another man moments before a gunshot rings out.
Cops were called to the scene, and found Washington, who lived in Bend, lying on the sidewalk suffering from a gunshot wound.
He was rushed to hospital and died the next day.
Cranston has now been charged with crimes including second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault.
He has not been charged with any hate crime, but District Attorney Hummel drew parallels between the killing and historic racist murders of black men.
He said: ‘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
‘It is believed that the initial interaction between Barry and Mr. Cranston began when Barry complimented Mr. Cranston’s girlfriend.
‘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.’
Cranston has since been arrested and held in Deschutes County Jail on a no-bail warrant, Hummel said.
Ian Cranston, 27 (left), has been charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, assault and weapons counts in the death of 22-year-old Barry Washington Jr (right)
The shooting took place on September 19 outside a nightclub in Bend, Oregon
Washington was fatally shot on the sidewalk after complimenting Cranston’s girlfriend and getting into a physical altercation with the man
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel drew parallels between Washington’s killing and historic lynchings of black men
Cranston’s attorney Kevin Sali accused Washington of being the aggressor and claimed that he physically assaulted his client, leaving him with head injuries.
In a statement to CNN, Sali said ‘indisputable’ video evidence shows ‘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.’
In the video said to show the incident, man believed to be Washington uses foul language and moves towards someone off camera.
Washington, a native of California, is pictured left and right with his mother, Lawanda Roberson
A woman shouts a profanity and a shot rings out. Then a male voice exclaims ‘Hey, call the police!’ and laughter is heard.
A grab from cellphone video appears to show Washington engaging in a dispute with some people just seconds before a gunshot rings out
Later, a woman is heard telling a man that the ‘guy on the ground’ pushed and hit her in the face, and also struck her boyfriend.
In announcing the indictment, Hummel said he had insufficient evidence to charge Cranston with a hate crime, but he did not rule out revisiting the issue as the investigation continues.
‘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,’ he said.
Speaking to reporters, Hummel drew comparisons between Washington’s death and historic killings black men in Jim Crow south, some of whom were lynched for talking to white women.
Cranston’s defense attorney later sharply rebuked Hummel over his race comments.
‘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,’ Sali stated.
The district attorney said Washington was ‘respectful’ when he complimented Cranston’s girlfriend. The suspect has not been charged with a hate crime
Cranston did not enter a plea during his arraignment on Friday. He is due back in court on December 7.
KTVZ reported that Cranston has no prior criminal history in Oregon. Over the past year, he has worked as a machinist for a company that manufactures bullets.
Washington was a native of Benicia, California, who had only recently relocated to Bend with a friend, according to the Bend Bulletin. He is survived by his mother and younger siblings.
‘This is really overwhelming. The way my son was murdered… it’s too much,’ wrote Washington’s mother, Lawanda Roberson. ‘I’m so hurt.. I haven’t even begin to grieve. The legal case is a lot…all while trying to lay my son to rest.’
A GoFundMe campaign that has been launched by Washington’s aunt to help the family has drawn more than $57,000 in donations.
Source: DUK News