A 34-year-old Black Army veteran by the name of LaRue Bratcher remains imprisoned today after her was charged with first-degree murder for killing a white man who was allegedly stealing from his business. Making matters worse, his trial date has been delayed and he will wait in jail for another few months as he awaits his day in court.
“I feel like this was an injustice for the simple fact that if the roles were reversed, if this was a white person inside the facility, he would not be in this situation,” Bratcher's wife, Vicky, told Yahoo! News.
Bratcher's nightmare began on May 27, 2020, at approximately 1 a.m. Bratcher was at his marijuana grow business, Premium Smoke LLC, when a man by the name of Daniel Hardwick attempted to break into his business for the second consecutive night.
“He was trying to break in when the business owner, who was inside the business at the time, apparently opened fire with a handgun, striking and killing the man who was breaking in,” Oklahoma Police Department Master Sergeant Gary Knight said in June 2020.
After the shooting took place, Bratcher called the police to handle the situation. Then, members of the Oklahoma Police Department called the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority in an effort "to ensure the business was legal." It was at this point that police learned that Bratcher's business license had expired in 2019. The Army veteran had hoped to renew his license in 2019, but had put it off after he was told that he needed to make nearly $100,000 in renovations before he would be allowed to do so.
Initially, he was arrested for operating a grow shop illegally and held on a $5,000 bond. In addition, authorities swooped in and confiscated approximately $1.5 million worth of marijuana from his business.
One week later, the district attorney's office upgraded Bratcher's charges to second-degree murder and raided his home. When Bratcher refused to take a plea deal, the district attorney upgraded the charges to first-degree murder. He now faces up to life in prison or death.
Since Bratcher was taken into custody, support has grown for his case. Nearly 6,000 people have signed a petition in support of the Army veteran.
“Someone broke into his place,” Bratcher's uncle, Derrick Neighbors, said.
“He didn’t go out looking for trouble. He was in his own place of business.”
While Oklahoma has a "Stand Your Ground" law in place, it reportedly does not apply to those who are committing a felony at the time of the shooting. As a result, Bratcher's felony charge tied to the marijuana grow shop invalidates the use of a "Stand Your Ground" law. Even without a "Stand Your Ground" defense, Bratcher's attorney, Clay Curtis, feels that he has a strong case.
“The evidence shows Mr. Bratcher acted reasonably under the circumstances,” Curtis told Yahoo! News.
“I think anyone would be in fear for their life in that circumstance. This case isn’t about us growing weed in terms of the homicide, it’s about whether people think he acted reasonably under the circumstances.”
Bratcher's trial is set for October 11.
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