COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A Mid-Missouri prosecutor will not file charges against a man who shot and killed a 25-year-old Columbia resident this spring, calling the shooting "legally justified" under the state's self-defense laws.
Boone County prosecutor Dan Knight announced the decision Wednesday, ruling that the man was justified in shooting Brandon Coleman. Knight said in a news release that he spoke with Coleman's family, who was "heartbroken" by his decision.
"They would like for me to file charges against (the shooter) for killing Brandon," Knight said. "I cannot do so."
A phone message left with Coleman's mother, Winona Coleman-Broadus, was not immediately returned. She told the Columbia Missourian she felt racial prejudice played a role in the decision. The shooter is white and Coleman was black.
Coleman-Broadus told the newspaper that if a black man had killed a white man, there would have been an immediate arrest.
"I told Dan Knight, "Just thank God when you say your prayers tonight that you're Caucasian,'" Coleman-Broadus said.
The shooting happened May 19 at the man's house. A document provided by Knight indicated that the shooter's father brandished a knife, and Coleman pointed a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun at the older man.
Knight determined that the shooter fired at Coleman out of fear that his father would be shot. Coleman died of blood loss after suffering three gunshot wounds.
The case stirred racial tension in Columbia. The NAACP organized a rally in support of Coleman, who worked as a groundskeeper at the University of Missouri.