WRITTEN BY ZACK LINLY
In the opinions of Black people across America, the reason Trayvon Martin‘s family never saw justice is the same reason it took months to even put Ahmaud Arbery‘s killers on the pathway to legal accountability: It’s just far too easy to kill a Black person and escape justice by claiming self-defense.
On October 12, 13-year-old Sinzae Reed was allegedly shot and killed by 36-year-old Krieg A. Butler Sr. in Columbus, Ohio. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office initially charged Butler with murder, but a week later, October 19, prosecutors filed to dismiss the case in Municipal Court. More than two months later, Sinzae’s family only knows one detail regarding why Butler is walking free today.
“There has been a claim of self-defense,” Columbus police homicide Det. Keith O’Connor said back in October. O’Conner said the claim was made by Butler and his mother but declined to comment further.
“It has been almost three months, and I haven’t spoken to anybody about this investigation,” Sinzae’s mother, Megan Reed, told The North Carolina Beat in a recent interview. “I haven’t even spoken to the detective. They are all on his side, Kreig is a white man, and the detective is a white man too.”
Here’s what Megan said happened, according to the Beat:
Megan Reed told The North Carolina Beat that on Wednesday, October 12, 2022, her son, 13-year-old Sinzae Reed, said he wasn’t feeling well. Megan said she told her son that it was probably because of the air he sleeps under with the fan in his bedroom window. She said Sinzae returned to his room and later came back out while she was cooking and had a conversation.
After Sinzae and his mother, Megan finished talking, he left the kitchen and returned to his room. Megan said the next thing she knew, someone came banging on her door. She said the neighbor told her that Sinzae had been shot.
Megan said she didn’t know that her son had even gone outside because they were just in the kitchen having a conversation before he went back to his room.
“I didn’t even know he had went outside,” Megan said. “Until the knock at my door telling me he had been shot.”
When Megan got to where her son was lying with gunshot wounds, she said witnesses started telling her that 36-year-old Krieg A. Butler Sr. was responsible.
“Soon as I got over there, everybody was like, ‘Kreig did this, Kreig did this,’” Megan said.
According to Megan, witnesses told her that Kreig allegedly shot Sinzae and then came back around and reshot him multiple times.
Megan said Butler fled the scene but was later captured and arrested at his house the next day. She also said Butler reportedly claimed her son had a gun, but she didn’t see a weapon when she went to the scene and no witnesses saw a gun either.
The Dispatch confirmed that, according to court records, an eyewitness who knows Butler told police they saw him exit a red truck, shoot Sinzae multiple times, get back in his truck and drive off, which makes it all the more perplexing that Butler is free with no charges.
At any rate, legal officials in Columbus still have not released information to the public as to why Butler’s self-defense claim was deemed credible enough for charges to be dropped. In October, Prosecuting Attorney Gary Tyack’s office put out a statement that basically said the killing was still under investigation and that this kind of case failing to make it to a grand jury isn’t uncommon.
“Not every case initiated in Municipal Court is presented to the Grand Jury,” the press release said, according to the Dispatch. “This particular case is still under review for possible presentation to the Grand Jury, and unfortunately, I cannot advise you when the case will be presented to the Grand Jury.”
Months later, we still don’t know why Sinzae was shot or why his alleged killer is free. Just what the hell happened here?