A grand jury this week indicted Ian Mackenzie Cranston, a 27-year-old White man, on six charges in connection to the shooting last month of 22-year-old Barry Washington Jr., a Black man, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel announced in a news conference Thursday following Cranston’s arrest.
Those charges include second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon.
Cranston appeared in court Friday and is being held in the Deschutes County Jail without bond. He has not entered a plea.
Cranston allegedly shot Washington to death in downtown Bend early September 19, according to a September 22 news release by the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office. Cranston was initially arrested on a single charge of second-degree manslaughter and had been released on bail before the grand jury returned the indictment Thursday.
In a statement issued to CNN Saturday, Kevin Sali, an attorney for Cranston, said, “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.”
According to CNN affiliate KTVZ, Hummel previously said that, prior to the shooting, Washington had complimented Cranston’s girlfriend, but that there was “no allegation that anything Mr. Washington did was inappropriate.”
“He complimented her in a respectful manner,” Hummel said, per KTVZ. “She was fine back. She said, ‘No, thank you. I’m flattered but I’m in a relationship.”
However, Cranston was “not happy,” Hummel said. “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 Cranston is White and Washington is Black, Hummel did not seek a hate crime charge, he said, telling reporters he felt prosecutors had insufficient evidence to make the case at this time. However, the case remains under investigation.
“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.
“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.”
Cranston’s attorney took issue with Hummel’s comments at the news conference, saying in his statement, “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.”
After the announcement of the charges, Washington’s mother, Lawanda Roberson, posted on Facebook that, “This is really overwhelming,” and that she hadn’t even begun to grieve.
“The legal case is a lot … all while trying to lay my son to rest,” she said.