A white man accused of killing a 13-year-old Black boy in Columbus, Oh., has roamed free for nearly 90 days after prosecutors dismissed murder charges against him, prompting the boy’s family to demand officials provide an explanation and put the man back behind bars, Capital B News reports. Police say Krieg Allen Butler, 36, claimed he fired a gun in self-defense during the Oct. 12 encounter that killed Sinzae Reed, but have given no information on why the man felt threatened. Sinzae’s relatives say he did not have a weapon. Court documents have not detailed the events leading up to the shooting. Butler was released on Oct. 19, six days after his arrest, without an ankle-monitoring bracelet or other restrictions. “The fact that this man is able to walk around the city of Columbus as if nothing has happened is ridiculous,” said activist Ramon Obey II. “It’s ridiculous it’s coming to this; that we can’t see any form of justice or even get a reason why they went this route with [Butler].”
The lack of transparency from prosecutors on Butler’s release has left Sinzae’s family and local activists with little confidence that they’ll receive justice. They say the case echoes the death of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in 2012 in a residential complex Police initially released Zimmerman, who said he shot Trayvon in self-defense. It was six weeks before Zimmerman was arrested on murder charges. He was ultimately acquitted. Martin’s murder sparked widespread criticism of Florida’s stand-your-ground law, which allows people to use deadly force in response to a perceived threat of great bodily harm without requiring them to retreat first. Amid public outcry, the Columbus Police Department said it is continuing to investigate the incident and awaiting “key forensic and ballistic evidence.” The completed investigation will be submitted to prosecutors. Sinzae and Butler were neighbors in the Wedgewood Apartments, where the fatal shooting occurred, but the two were strangers. An eyewitness who knows Butler told police that they saw him exit his red truck with a handgun and fire bullets that struck Sinzae multiple times before Butler fled the scene. Sinzae was pronounced dead less than an hour later. Sinzae’s family, including nine brothers and sisters, held a memorial service for him in October. Butler was originally charged with murder as well as violating the terms of his parole from a 2019 domestic violence case, to which he pleaded guilty and served 30 days in jail. Federal law prohibits those convicted of domestic violence from possessing a firearm, but Butler was not charged with criminal possession of a weapon.