Columbus police say man arrested, then released, in shooting death of 13-year-old claimed self-defense

Court documents show that Krieg Butler, 36, the neighbor of Sinzae Reed, had previously been found guilty of misdemeanor domestic abuse in Franklin County, making it illegal for him to possess a firearm.

Columbus police said a man who was detained and then released in connection with the shooting death of a 13-year-old boy claimed self-defense.

According to 10WBNS News, Krieg Butler, 36, was charged with murder in the shooting death of Sinzae Reed on Oct. 12, 2022, but the Franklin County prosecutor’s office has since dismissed the charges on Oct. 19 after the self-defense claim. Prosecutors said any re-filing would not happen until a police investigation is completed.

The Columbus Division of Police said in a statement that Butler was arrested and charged with murder on Oct.13, following extensive witness interviews. He was sent to the Franklin County Jail.

Sinzae Reed
Sinzae Reed, 13, (above) was fatally shot in October. A neighbor, Krieg Butler, 36, was arrested but a murder charge was dismissed after he claimed self-defense. Prosecutors said they are awaiting the completion of a police investigation before re-filing charges. (Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/WBNS 10TV

“During the Homicide review of the investigation, there was an allegation made by Mr. Butler that he acted in self-defense,” police said in a statement, WNBS reported. “The Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, upon learning of this information, dismissed the charges against Mr. Butler pending the completion of the investigation. The Columbus Division of Police does not dismiss charges.”

Police further stated that they are working diligently with independent agencies to look into the circumstances surrounding Reed’s death and are “still awaiting key forensic and ballistic evidence.” 

They will submit the findings to the prosecutor’s office after the investigation is complete, and prosecutors will decide whether or not to present the case to the grand jury for indictment in Common Pleas Court, which handles felonies. According to The Columbus Dispatch, Franklin County prosecuting attorney Gary Tyack’s office issued a release saying that it is standard practice for nearly every felony case filed in Municipal Court, where this one was initiated, to be dismissed. 

Reed’s family is now searching for answers as to why the alleged killer of their loved one is free, according to The Dispatch.

Butler and his mother claimed on social media that he acted in self-defense, but Makayla Nichols said she doesn’t believe her younger brother could have had a weapon.

“My little brother was 13 and they let his killer out five days later,” Nichols said, The Dispatch reported. “A baby is gone.”

Court documents show Butler had previously been found guilty of misdemeanor domestic abuse in Franklin County. As a result, he is not permitted to possess a firearm under federal law.

Nichols claimed that Reed had been shot four or five times, including in the right hand and the back. There isn’t a completed autopsy report from the Franklin County coroner’s office.

“Sinzae’s not a bad kid at all,” Nichols said, according to The Dispatch. “How was a grown man scared of him? He did not deserve to die.”

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