UPDATE @ 9:17 p.m. (Sept. 5): Reaction was fervent to Mayor Nan Whaley’s statement this week that the two 17-year-olds were murdered when a homeowner shot them in his Dayton garage a week ago.
Matthew Harrison, the uncle of one the boys, said he definitely agrees with the mayor and said he feels as though it’s a step toward justice.
“This was definitely a murder,” Harrison, whose nephew is Javier Harrison, told News Center 7’s Mike Campbell on Thursday. “The man was not in imminent danger.”
The homeowner, whose name police have not made public, left his house when he heard noise in the unsecured detached garage and opened fire after he encountered three males there. The homeowner has not been charged in the deaths of Javier Harrison and Devin Henderson. The third male ran, returned to the scene later and remains jailed on a trespassing charge.
Javier’s father, Jimmy, said, “now you have two families stuck in a situation that could have been avoided and it’s just drained a lot of everybody.”
He said he wants to make it clear the family does not believe this case is about race.
“It’s about right and wrong,” Jimmy Harrison said. “I just want justice to be served.”
The reactions of some of the thousands of News Center 7 viewers who heard Whaley’s comments were just as passionate.
“...unbelievable a mayor of a city the size of Dayton would throw out a judgment of guilty before someone is given the chance to be proven innocent,” said Joe Hausfield.
Another, Brian Hart, said, “As a mayor, I don’t think it’s appropriate to pass judgment before all the facts are out.”
Officials with the Dayton Police Department and the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office have said they cannot comment on an active investigation.
EARLIER REPORT (Sept. 4)
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley on Wednesday night said she hopes the person responsible for killing two teens in his detached garage last week will be prosecuted despite Ohio’s new self-defense law.
Speaking after a Dayton City Commission meeting, Whaley said she believes the 17-year-old boys, Javier Harrison and Devin Henderson, were murdered.
The teens were killed Aug. 28 after a property owner on the 800 block of Conners Street opened fire while they and another young man were inside the owner’s detached, unsecured garage, officials say.
The property owner told police the teens were trespassing.
Whaley said she hopes prosecutors find a way to bring charges against the property owner.
She said 17-year-olds make mistakes, but that does not mean they should have to lose their lives.
“I think there is more to the story, just from what we’re hearing around,” she said. “I hope they will be able to prosecute.”
Thursday morning, the family of Harrison released a statement, thanking Whaley for her support and for seeking prosecution of the homeowner.
Multiple people who spoke at the Dayton City Commission meeting Wednesday evening called on city officials, police leaders and prosecutors to hold the shooter accountable.
“Two African-American males were killed, murdered, shot down — and the killer goes home to a relative,” said Bishop Richard Cox. “This is not open season on African-American young men in our communities.”
“We want justice,” he said. “We’re not here asking for justice — we’re here demanding justice.”
Cox said the shooter should be arrested, indicted, convicted and incarcerated. He said Harrison and Henderson were acting like teens, and it should not matter if they were drinking or smoking pot. The father of one of the teens said they were smoking marijuana.
A new state law shifts the burden of proving someone acted in self-defense from defense attorneys to prosecutors.
Late Wednesday night, Derrick Foward, president of the Dayton Unit of the NAACP, issued a statement regarding the deaths of Harrison and Henderson. Following is the complete statement:
“On behalf of the Dayton Unit NAACP, we are praying for the family members of Javier Harrison and Devin Henderson, who were killed at the hands of a non-responsible gun owner in his unoccupied garage. We urge Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl to work relentlessly with Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck to present charges and secure an indictment against the person responsible for this heinous act of violence. We demand that this person be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We ask that any citizen who witnessed this shooting, or has information regarding this case, to report it to the Dayton Unit NAACP or local law enforcement. During this process, we urge our citizens to remain calm and vigilant.”
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