A white former Tulsa, Oklahoma, cop has been convicted of first-degree manslaughter, not murder, for killing his daughter’s unarmed black boyfriend. A jury returned the verdict on Wednesday, October 18th.
Shannon Kepler shot to death Jeremy Lake, 19, on August 5, 2014. Kepler, who resigned from the police department after he was indicted, shot and killed Lake after Lake attempted to shake hands with him. Kepler claimed he believed Lake was reaching for gun. Police did not find a gun.
Prosecutors argued Kepler killed Lake because he was dating Kepler’s daughter. The jury recommended that Kepler be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Civil rights activists were not happy with the sentence recommendation, charging that blacks were intentionally kept off the jury. No enhancements were added to the charges for the clearly racial nature of the killing. Kepler’s lawyers, on the other hand, argued that Tulsa prosecutors could not try their client because he is a Muscogee Indian. The judge rejected the argument.
In 2012, Jake England, a 19 year-old Cherokee Indian and Alvin Watts, 32, shot and killed three black men and wounded two others in Tulsa. England and Watts are now serving life in prison.
Kepler is scheduled to be sentenced next month.