A Deschutes County jury on Wednesday found Ian Cranston guilty of first-degree manslaughter more than a year after he shot and killed Barry Washington Jr., an unarmed black man, outside a bar in downtown Bend.
A jury found him not guilty of the more serious charge of second-degree murder, but found him guilty of five other counts. They include second-degree murder, first-degree assault and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon.
The conviction came at the end of a two-week trial in which attorneys played video of the shooting. With much of the incident captured on video, the case hinged on whether jurors thought Cranston acted in self-defense.
The assassination sparked a series of protests around the time of Washington’s death, as similar demonstrations took place across the country over the deaths of unarmed black men. Washington’s mother has repeatedly said her son would be alive if he wasn’t black. Recently, protesters marched in downtown Bend every day of the trial.
Lawyers for both sides said Cranston and Washington got into an argument after Washington flirted with Cranston’s fiancee, which eventually led to punches being thrown. Interpretations of what led to those punches and the events that followed divided both sides throughout the trial.
Prosecutors spent much of their case portraying that Cranston did not fear for his safety during the shooting and the fight that led to it. Assistant District Attorney J. Michael Swart revealed startling new evidence during closing arguments Tuesday that Cranston’s first action after shooting Washington was to take a drag on a cigarette.
Cranston was smoking a cigarette during the fight, Swart argued, showing he was calm and not afraid for his personal safety. That contradicted the defense’s claims that Cranston had tried to help the dying Washington.
“Clint Eastwood wouldn’t be proud,” Swart said of Cranston’s actions. “He has a cigarette in his hand the whole time.”
Prosecutors also asked Cranston about his history with firearms and why he decided to bring a concealed weapon to a bar on a night of drinking. The defense pointed out that Oregon law does not prohibit drinking while carrying a firearm.
Cranston’s defense team, led by attorney Kevin Salley, insisted he acted in self-defense that night, focusing specifically on the injuries Cranston received after Washington punched Cranston twice in the head. Sally said Cranston had no way of knowing how intense another punch would be.
“It was a shot that the law gave him the right to fire,” Sally told jurors Tuesday before they entered deliberations.
A self-defense argument
In its case, the defendant, Dr. Called Jennifer Stankus. Stankus said he believed Cranston’s skull was fractured based on his medical reports, although medical staff who treated him the night of the shooting could not find such an injury.
Sally called only two witnesses, Stankus and Cranston. He spent much of Cranston’s testimony showing the jury video footage of the shooting, stating that Cranston was not escalating the situation.
Prosecutors said Cranston had multiple opportunities to get out but chose to engage Washington while pulling out a gun.
The jury deliberated Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning before convicting Cranston of first-degree murder, a Class A felony in Oregon that carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
A sentencing hearing will be held on November 28.
This is a developing story and may be updated.