The death of Justin King, a Black man fatally shot in a Missouri trailer park by a white neighbor, has been ruled a justifiable homicide.
King, 28, was shot on Nov. 3 in the small town of Bourbon, about 85 miles southwest of Ferguson. Local law enforcement said King was shot by the owner of a home he was trying to break into. However, witnesses present during the incident said King was killed in cold blood by a man he called a friend.
The friend, a 42-year-old unnamed white man, was taken into custody after the shooting but was later released.
NBC News reports six county residents were presented with evidence and heard testimony from witnesses at the Crawford County Courthouse to help the coroner determine the cause of death. The proceeding took nine hours, and the panel concluded the shooting was justified.
Nimrod Chapel Jr., the president of the Missouri NAACP, who is representing King’s family, said they disagree with the decision.
“The family is distraught. They were promised the evidence, and what they ended up with was seeing their son being vilified,” Chapel said after the inquest. “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.”
Under the state’s castle doctrine, people can use deadly force against intruders without the duty to retreat. The law is based on the notion that their home is “their castle.”
In the days after King’s death, three neighbors told NBC the shooter previously expressed a desire to kill someone, has a history of violence and was known to use racial epithets. Neighbor Katie Bosek said King was a “gentle man,” who helped her search for her dogs, and later that day, the two men helped her fix her car hours before the incident.