Justin King’s family speaks out after fatal shooting by white neighbor

The 28-year-old Black man's kin and at least five neighbors dispute the shooter's account that King was trying to break into his home.

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The family of a 28-year-old Black man shot and killed by his white neighbor is speaking out about what they deem to be questionable circumstances surrounding his death. 

Justin King lived across from the unidentified individual who shot and killed him mid-morning on Nov. 3 inside their small trailer park in Bourbon, Missouri, about 73 miles southwest of St. Louis. The man told authorities King was trying to break into his trailer, and Missouri has “castle doctrine” laws, which mean a homeowner has the right to defend their home with lethal force. 

However, King’s family and at least five neighbors are disputing that account. 

Justin King, shown having fun in an undated photo, was shot dead by a neighbor who told police King was trying to break into his home. Witnesses reportedly say otherwise. (Photo: Screenshot/NBC)

According to a recent NBC News report, one neighbor said King and the unnamed shooter were friends. Another neighbor, Katie Bosek, said that the two men were jointly working on her car earlier on the day of the shooting. “They both got under the hood together,” Bosek said. “They’re just cutting it up laughing as they’re doing it.”

She described King as “a gentle man who helped everybody.” 

Bosek told the news outlet that as the pair finished the car repairs, she saw them walk away together — and 15 minutes later, she heard three gunshots and saw King lying on the ground. 

Another neighbor, Trina Wilson, said of the assailant: “He knew Justin. You would think that if your friend was coming into your house, you’d be like, ‘Hey, man, what are you doing?’ Why do you automatically resort to pulling out a gun and shooting him? How can this even possibly go down as self-defense?”

King’s father, John King, said, “The only person that says it’s a home invasion is the guy that shot my son.” 

He noted that his son “had no shirt on, only pajama bottoms. So how was he a threat? Justin was shot in cold blood outside in broad daylight.”

In a statement shared by the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department on Facebook five days after King’s shooting death, Major Adam Carnal, chief deputy of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, said the incident was still being investigated, but “at this time, it appears that King was shot and killed after forcing entry into a neighboring residence where an altercation took place.” 

“The homeowner stated that he feared for his life and shot King,” he continued. “All evidence on scene, video surveillance and statements received, preliminarily corroborate the homeowner’s account of the events.” The department says that upon completion of the investigation, all information will be forwarded to the Crawford County Prosecutor’s Office for their review regarding any possible charges. 

Per the NBC News report, the undisclosed shooter has a history of violence and was known to show off his gun. Bosek said that months prior to the shooting, King told her that the man had threatened him. 

Further, two more trailer park neighbors said that the 42-year-old man was known to be liberal with his use of the N-word. He had previously been charged with second-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon while intoxicated — both felonies — but it is not clear if he was convicted. 

Nimrod Chapel Jr., president of the Missouri NAACP and the attorney representing Justin King’s family, maintains that they want justice for his death, and notes that their state has a history of failure to investigate the deaths of Black men at the hands of white men. 

“That’s Jim Crow justice,” Chapel said. “This is a statewide issue. In Justin’s case, they allege that there’s an investigation, but then they produce the results of the investigation before the investigation is complete. What kind of police work is that?”

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