No Charges for Man Who Shot Black Co-Worker 9 Times

DA says he can't show 'this was not self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2022 12:00 PM CDT
No Charges for Man Who Shot Black Co-Worker 9 Times
Tehilah Spencer, of East Liberty, the brother of the late Peter Spencer, carries a Jamaican flag as he leads a rally calling for justice in his brother's death, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022, in downtown Pittsburgh.   (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

Peter Spencer's family members called his death "a modern-day lynching," but ABC News reports the co-worker accused of shooting him during a Pennsylvania camping trip last December won't face charges. District Attorney Shawn White on Tuesday said based on the evidence, prosecutors would be unable to show "this was not self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt." "This is my call. I believe it's the right one," he said. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette goes into detail on White's decision, reporting that details from interviews given by four witnesses synced with evidence at the scene and indicated Spencer was acting in an erratic and threatening manner that made his killing justified under the "Stand Your Ground" law.

White explained that Spencer, the shooter, and a male witness used pot and psychedelic mushrooms at the camp; the Inquirer reports the others said Spencer told them he had never ingested mushrooms before. The witnesses say Spencer—the only Black person on the trip—then began referring to himself as "a god," insisted they build up their campfire, insisted they hand over their keys and phone, and started shooting his AK-47 into the air, which he continued to do over 45 minutes. A neighboring camper confirmed the timeline of the shots. When one person present declined to collect more wood, White said Spencer instructed the man to kneel on the ground and then lay face-down on the ground, which he did. The shooter at that point retrieved his 9mm handgun.

White said the shooter recounted that Spencer threatened to "shoot up the place" and aimed his gun at him; the shooter, fearing Spencer would kill them all, then fired. As for the family's allegations that Spencer was shot in the back, White says the shooter hit Spencer nine times. Seven rear wounds were exit wounds, and the others likely struck his back as he twisted while falling to the ground. An autopsy confirmed that Spencer's blood contained psilocin from the mushrooms. An attorney for Spencer's family said they disagreed with the ruling. "This is the type of behavior we have seen from the PA State Police and Venango County District Attorney from the outset," the attorney said. (More stand your ground stories.)

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