Inquest finds no crime in fatal shooting of Missouri man

Jan 11, 2022, 1:50 PM | Updated: 6:40 pm

A Missouri coroner’s inquest jury on Tuesday found that the death of a Black man at the hands of a white neighbor in a small-town trailer park was justified.

The six-member coroner’s inquest jury convened to examine the death of Justin King in Bourbon, Missouri, a town of 1,600 residents 75 miles (120 kilometers) southwest of St. Louis.

The decision disappointed civil rights leaders, some of whom rallied at the Crawford County Courthouse before the hearing. Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel Jr., who attended the inquest, questioned if all the evidence was presented.

“Sad is an understatement,” Chapel said of the decision. “We’re still seeking justice and that will continue as the days go on.”

King, 28, was shot to death in broad daylight outside his neighbor’s home on Nov. 3. The inquest jury’s finding backs the initial police investigation which determined that the shooting was justified — a finding questioned by some neighbors as well as King’s family.

Coroner’s inquests are relatively uncommon, said Peter Joy, a professor at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. They’re not necessary when the cause of death is clearly not a crime, such as an auto accident, nor are they necessary when a crime was clearly committed, like many fatal shootings.

“It’s only where you have these questions, and that’s a very small number,” Joy said. “With a smaller county, you may go several years before there is a coroner’s inquest.”

The six-member jury hears testimony and weighs other evidence just as a trial jury would. The difference: Their finding carries no legal weight. Joy said the county prosecutor can factor in the jury’s decision in deciding whether to file charges; can appoint a grand jury for further investigation; or can ignore the inquest entirely.

The inquest on Tuesday marked the second coroner’s inquest in six months to examine the suspicious death of a young Black man.

Derontae Martin was 19 when he died in April during a party at the Madison County home of a man with a history of making racist comments and social media postings. Investigators determined Martin killed himself, but a subsequent coroner’s inquest jury found he died by “violence,” not suicide.

One witness said at the July inquest into Martin’s death that the homeowner told him he killed Martin, saying, “he didn’t like Black people.” But another witness said he saw Martin shoot himself.

Despite the inquest jury’s determination, no charges have been filed. A phone message left with Madison County Prosecuting Attorney M. Dwight Robbins wasn’t returned.

In King’s death, the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department didn’t respond to interview requests, nor did the prosecutor. But the sheriff’s department posted on Facebook soon after the shooting that “it appears that King was shot and killed after forcing entry into a neighbor’s residence where an altercation took place. The homeowner stated that he feared for his life and shot King.”

Two of King’s neighbors, in November interviews with The Associated Press, questioned the police account. They said King was a friend of the shooter, a white man in his 40s who lived across the street. Neighbor Katie Bosek said that when her car wouldn’t start around 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 3, King and the shooter worked together to connect a loose wire and got the car going.

King was killed less than 15 minute later, Bosek said.

Missouri’s “castle doctrine” law allows for deadly force against intruders. Joy said that even if the shooter and King knew each other, the shooting could be deemed justified if it was determined that King was trying to break in.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Lead water pipes pulled from underneath the street are seen in Newark, N.J., Oct. 21, 2021. (AP Pho...

Associated Press

Biden to require cities to replace harmful lead pipes within 10 years

The Biden administration has previously said it wants all of the nation's roughly 9 million lead pipes to be removed, and rapidly.

3 days ago

Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct. 28, 2...

Associated Press

Meta shuts down thousands of fake Facebook accounts that were primed to polarize voters ahead of 2024

Meta said it removed 4789 Facebook accounts in China that targeted the United States before next year’s election.

3 days ago

A demonstrator in Tel Aviv holds a sign calling for a cease-fire in the Hamas-Israel war on Nov. 21...

Associated Press

Hamas releases a third group of hostages as part of truce, and says it will seek to extend the deal

The fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was back on track Sunday as the first American was released under a four-day truce.

8 days ago

Men look over the site of a deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, ...

Associated Press

New AP analysis of last month’s deadly Gaza hospital explosion rules out widely cited video

The Associated Press is publishing an updated visual analysis of the deadly Oct. 17 explosion at Gaza's Al-Ahli Hospital.

11 days ago

Peggy Simpson holds a photograph of law enforcement carrying Lee Harvey Oswald's gun through a hall...

Associated Press

JFK assassination remembered 60 years later by surviving witnesses to history, including AP reporter

Peggy Simpson is among the last surviving witnesses who are sharing their stories as the nation marks the 60th anniversary.

11 days ago

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, ...

Associated Press

Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire with Hamas; deal includes release of 50 hostages

Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a cease-fire deal with the Hamas militant group that would bring a temporary halt to a devastating war.

12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Desert Institute for Spine Care (DISC) wants to help Valley residents address back, neck issues through awake spine surgery

As the weather begins to change, those with back issues can no longer rely on the dry heat to aid their backs. That's where DISC comes in.

Inquest finds no crime in fatal shooting of Missouri man