COLUMBIA, Mo. - Boone County prosecutors said Wednesday they are not filing charges in the shooting death of a Columbia man earlier this year.
Brandon Coleman, 25, was killed May 19 in the 500 block of N. Ann Street near the Salvation Army Harbor House off Hinkson Avenue.
Witnesses say a fight started before the shooting. Coleman was hit several times.
Officials think the gunman was not guilty because he acted in self-defense. Prosecutor Dan Knight ruled that the shooter was justified in shooting Coleman under Missouri's self-defense laws.
"Based on the evidence, the law and my ethical responsibilities as a prosecutor, I could not move forward with this case," he told ABC 17 News.
A document provided by Knight indicated that the shooter's father brandished a knife, and Coleman pointed a gun at the older man. Knight determined that the shooter shot Coleman out of fear that his father would be shot.
"[The shooter] had every right under the laws of the state of MO to do what he did," Knight said.
But the Columbia chapter of the NAACP regathered Wednesday. It was not the first rally the group planned for Coleman.
"We consider it an injustice," said vice president Pamela Hardin. "We feel it was a hate crime."
Documents from Knight's investigation describe a racially-charged argument between the shooter and another black man, a friend of Coleman.
The NAACP alleged Wednesday that racial undertones played a role in the investigation and decision not prosecute.
"We do feel if the shoe was on the other foot, there would have been an arrest," Hardin said.
Knight denied the allegations to ABC 17 News repeatedly Wednesday.
"If Dustin Deacon [the shooter] had been a black person and Brandon Coleman had been a white person, the exact same result would have been reached by me," Knight said.
NAACP representatives had not read Knight's letter at the time of Wednesday's rally. Leaders said the group would look into how to proceed to help Coleman's family and to seek legal justice.
Coleman's mother, Winona Coleman-Broadus, is asking the Justice Department to investigate. She believes racial prejudice played a role in the decision.
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